391938 Young Faculty Talk (2): Suppressing Optical Absorption in Nanostructured Metal Electrodes in Photovoltaics

Wednesday, November 19, 2014: 4:05 PM
A704 (Marriott Marquis Atlanta)
Sang Eon Han, Department of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Electrodes are ubiquitously used in optoelectronic devices such as solar cells, infrared detectors, and light emitting diodes.  Typically, metals exhibit good electrical conductivity due to their free electrons and are suitable for electrodes in these devices.  However, metal electrodes cause inefficiency in the devices by absorbing light as their free electrons suffer from collisions.  To circumvent this problem, nanostructured metals are being explored to realize low optical losses while maintaining large electrical conductivity.  Here, we study optical absorption in helical metal nanocoils and find that absorption can be dramatically decreased when the metal is suitably nanostructured.  Theoretical modeling showed that this effect is due to the increase in the effective mass of free electrons in nanostructured metals.  Heavy electrons suffer a decreased rate of collision and emulate dielectric materials where optical losses are negligible.  Calculations showed that, when metal electrodes are used in semiconductors devices, suitably chosen nanostructures can increase the fractional absorption in semiconductors more than 60 times by reducing losses in the metal.

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