Single-nanowire, low-bandgap hot carrier solar cells with tunable open-circuit voltage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Compared to traditional pn-junction photovoltaics, hot carrier solar cells offer potentially higher efficiency by extracting work from the kinetic energy of photogenerated 'hot carriers' before they cool to the lattice temperature. Hot carrier solar cells have been demonstrated in high-bandgap ferroelectric insulators and GaAs/AlGaAs heterostructures, but so far not in low-bandgap materials, where the potential efficiency gain is highest. Recently, a high open-circuit voltage was demonstrated in an illuminated wurtzite InAs nanowire with a low bandgap of 0.39 eV, and was interpreted in terms of a photothermoelectric effect. Here, we point out that this device is a hot carrier solar cell and discuss its performance in those terms. In the demonstrated devices, InP heterostructures are used as energy filters in order to thermoelectrically harvest the energy of hot electrons photogenerated in InAs absorber segments. The obtained photovoltage depends on the heterostructure design of the energy filter and is therefore tunable. By using a high-resistance, thermionic barrier, an open-circuit voltage is obtained that is in excess of the Shockley-Queisser limit. These results provide generalizable insight into how to realize high voltage hot carrier solar cells in low-bandgap materials, and therefore are a step towards the demonstration of higher efficiency hot carrier solar cells.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • University of New South Wales
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Energy Engineering
  • Nano Technology

Keywords

  • hot carriers, III-V nanowires, photothermoelectrics, photovoltaics, Shockley-Queisser limit
Original languageEnglish
Article number434001
JournalNanotechnology
Volume28
Issue number43
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 2
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes