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      Broadband optical absorption by tunable Mie resonances in silicon nanocone arrays

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          Abstract

          Nanostructure arrays such as nanowire, nanopillar, and nanocone arrays have been proposed to be promising antireflection structures for photovoltaic applications due to their great light trapping ability. In this paper, the optical properties of Si nanopillar and nanocone arrays in visible and infrared region were studied by both theoretical calculations and experiments. The results show that the Mie resonance can be continuously tuned across a wide range of wavelength by varying the diameter of the nanopillars. However, Si nanopillar array with uniform diameter exhibits only discrete resonance mode, thus can't achieve a high broadband absorption. On the other hand, the Mie resonance wavelength in a Si nanocone array can vary continuously as the diameters of the cross sections increase from the apex to the base. Therefore Si nanocone arrays can strongly interact with the incident light in the broadband spectrum and the absorbance by Si nanocone arrays is higher than 95% over the wavelength from 300 to 2000 nm. In addition to the Mie resonance, the broadband optical absorption of Si nanocone arrays is also affected by Wood-Rayleigh anomaly effect and metal impurities introduced in the fabrication process.

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          Light trapping in silicon nanowire solar cells.

          Thin-film structures can reduce the cost of solar power by using inexpensive substrates and a lower quantity and quality of semiconductor material. However, the resulting short optical path length and minority carrier diffusion length necessitates either a high absorption coefficient or excellent light trapping. Semiconducting nanowire arrays have already been shown to have low reflective losses compared to planar semiconductors, but their light-trapping properties have not been measured. Using optical transmission and photocurrent measurements on thin silicon films, we demonstrate that ordered arrays of silicon nanowires increase the path length of incident solar radiation by up to a factor of 73. This extraordinary light-trapping path length enhancement factor is above the randomized scattering (Lambertian) limit (2n(2) approximately 25 without a back reflector) and is superior to other light-trapping methods. By changing the silicon film thickness and nanowire length, we show that there is a competition between improved absorption and increased surface recombination; for nanowire arrays fabricated from 8 mum thick silicon films, the enhanced absorption can dominate over surface recombination, even without any surface passivation. These nanowire devices give efficiencies above 5%, with short-circuit photocurrents higher than planar control samples.
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            Optical absorption enhancement in amorphous silicon nanowire and nanocone arrays.

            Hydrogenated amorphous Si (a-Si:H) is an important solar cell material. Here we demonstrate the fabrication of a-Si:H nanowires (NWs) and nanocones (NCs), using an easily scalable and IC-compatible process. We also investigate the optical properties of these nanostructures. These a-Si:H nanostructures display greatly enhanced absorption over a large range of wavelengths and angles of incidence, due to suppressed reflection. The enhancement effect is particularly strong for a-Si:H NC arrays, which provide nearly perfect impedance matching between a-Si:H and air through a gradual reduction of the effective refractive index. More than 90% of light is absorbed at angles of incidence up to 60 degrees for a-Si:H NC arrays, which is significantly better than NW arrays (70%) and thin films (45%). In addition, the absorption of NC arrays is 88% at the band gap edge of a-Si:H, which is much higher than NW arrays (70%) and thin films (53%). Our experimental data agree very well with simulation. The a-Si:H nanocones function as both absorber and antireflection layers, which offer a promising approach to enhance the solar cell energy conversion efficiency.
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              Improved broadband and quasi-omnidirectional anti-reflection properties with biomimetic silicon nanostructures.

              Nature routinely produces nanostructured surfaces with useful properties, such as the self-cleaning lotus leaf, the colour of the butterfly wing, the photoreceptor in brittlestar and the anti-reflection observed in the moth eye. Scientists and engineers have been able to mimic some of these natural structures in the laboratory and in real-world applications. Here, we report a simple aperiodic array of silicon nanotips on a 6-inch wafer with a sub-wavelength structure that can suppress the reflection of light at a range of wavelengths from the ultraviolet, through the visible part of the spectrum, to the terahertz region. Reflection is suppressed for a wide range of angles of incidence and for both s- and p-polarized light. The antireflection properties of the silicon result from changes in the refractive index caused by variations in the height of the silicon nanotips, and can be simulated with models that have been used to explain the low reflection from moth eyes. The improved anti-reflection properties of the surfaces could have applications in renewable energy and electro-optical devices for the military.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group
                2045-2322
                15 January 2015
                2015
                : 5
                : 7810
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Shanghai Engineering Research Center of Ultra-Precision Optical Manufacturing and Department of Optical Science and Engineering, Fudan University , Shanghai. 200433, China
                [2 ]Key Laboratory for Information Science of Electromagnetic Waves (MoE) , Shanghai 200433, China
                [3 ]Ames Laboratory, U. S. Department of Energy and Department of Physics and Astronomy, Iowa State University , Ames, Iowa 50011, USA
                [4 ]National Laboratory for Infrared Physics, Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences , Shanghai 200083, China
                Author notes
                Article
                srep07810
                10.1038/srep07810
                4295092
                25589290
                99c6e6ce-0ba8-4994-8c24-4bcdb3a3648a
                Copyright © 2015, Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder in order to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

                History
                : 04 July 2014
                : 10 December 2014
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