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Title: Solar Cell Nanotechnology Final Technical Report

The objective of this project is to develop a low cost nonlithographic nanofabrication technology for the fabrication of thin film porous templates as well as uniform arrays of semiconductor nanostructures for the implementation of high efficiency solar cells. Solar cells based on semiconductor nanostructures are expected to have very high energy conversion efficiencies due to the increased absorption coefficients of semiconductor nanostructures. In addition, the thin film porous template can be used for optimum surface texturing of solar cells leading to additional enhancement in energy conversion efficiency. An important requirement for these applications is the ability to synthesize nanostructure arrays of different dimensions with good size control. This project employed nanoporous alumina templates created by the anodization of aluminum thin films deposited on glass substrates for the fabrication of the nanostructures and optimized the process parameters to obtain uniform pore diameters. An additional requirement is uniformity or regularity of the nanostructure arrays. While constant current anodization was observed to provide controlled pore diameters, constant voltage anodization was needed for regularity of the nanostructure arrays. Thus a two-step anodization process was investigated and developed in this project for improving the pore size distribution and pore periodicity of the nanoporous alumina templates.more » CdTe was selected to be the active material for the nanowires, and the process for the successful synthesis of CdTe nanowires was developed in this project. Two different synthesis approaches were investigated in this project, electrochemical and electrophoretic deposition. While electrochemical synthesis was successfully employed for the synthesis of nanowires inside the pores of the alumina templates, the technique was determined to be non-optimum due to the need of elevated temperature that is detrimental to the structural integrity of the nanoporous alumina templates. In order to eliminate this problem, electrophoretic deposition was selected as the more appropriate technique, which involves the guided deposition of semiconductor nanoparticles in the presence of ultrasonic energy to form the crystalline nanowires. Extensive experimental research was carried out to optimize the process parameters for formation of crystalline nanowires. It was observed that the environmental bath temperature plays a critical role in determining the structural integrity of the nanowires and hence their lengths. Investigation was carried out for the formation of semitransparent ohmic contacts on the nanowires to facilitate photocurrent spectroscopy measurements as well as for solar cell implementation. Formation of such ohmic contacts was found to be challenging and a process involving mechanical and electrochemical polishing was developed to facilitate such contacts. The use of nanoporous alumina templates for the surface texturing of mono- and multi-crystalline solar cells was extensively investigated by electrochemical etching of the silicon through the pores of the nanoporous templates. The processes for template formation as well as etching were optimized and the alumina/silicon interface was investigated using capacitance-voltage characterization. The process developed was found to be viable for improving solar cell performance.« less
  1. Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Country of Publication:
United States
14 SOLAR ENERGY solar cell; nanotechnology; nanowire