273311 Nanomanufacturing of Multicomponent Plasmonic Interfaces with Broadband Solar Absorption Capability
Thin-film solar cells offer much promise in affordable renewable energy harvesting: Compared to the conventional bulk solar cells which use several 100 microns thick semiconductor material, thin film technology targets the use of 1-2 micron thick layers which can be applied to hard or flexible substrates. Thin film photovoltaic cells have a potential economical advantage over expensive bulk photovoltaic cells due to the low cost, high volume scale up capabilities. However, the current conversion efficiencies of such thin films are much lower than bulk photovoltaic cells due to poor light trapping. Improving the efficiency of thin-film photovoltaics using plasmonic interfaces is an area of active research. A promising approach is the incorporation of a light-trapping layer that consists of noble metal nanoparticles onto the photovoltaic devices [1-3]. Two- or three- dimensional nanostructured plasmonic interfaces for this purpose have been fabricated by using lithography, vapor deposition and dewetting of thin metal films by ns and fs pulsed lasers [4-11]. However, economical scale up and adaptation of such processes to fabricate interfaces with multiple species/shapes/sizes in a controllable and repeatable fashion are not straightforward.
In this study, we use three methods suitable for low cost, high volume manufacturing of 2D and 3D plasmonic nanocomposites, including Layer-By-Layer (LBL) assembly on glass, spin coating nanoparticle layers on silicon and glass, and embedding nanoparticle in thin polymer films. LBL assembly provides a versatile and controllable route to immobilize functional nanoparticles onto substrates. We demonstrate that a uniform distribution of nanoparticles with controllable area coverage can be achieved using the conventional spin-coating method. Flexible thin films based on polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) with embedded multicomponent nanoparticles have also been made. The optical responses of such nanocomposites can be tuned by changing the nanoparticle type, size, shape, and composition. Applications of such plasmonic nanocomposites to solar energy harvesting, smart glasses with tunable optical properties, and antibacterial surface coating will be presented.
Acknowledgements: We acknowledge National Science Foundation grant CBET-1049454 for partial support of this research. Syracuse University has filed US and PCT patent applications based on the findings of tis work.
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