Letter

Photon management in two-dimensional disordered media

  • Nature Materials volume 11, pages 10171022 (2012)
  • doi:10.1038/nmat3442
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Abstract

Elaborating reliable and versatile strategies for efficient light coupling between free space and thin films is of crucial importance for new technologies in energy efficiency. Nanostructured materials have opened unprecedented opportunities for light management, notably in thin-film solar cells1,2. Efficient coherent light trapping has been accomplished through the careful design of plasmonic nanoparticles and gratings3,4, resonant dielectric particles5,6 and photonic crystals7,8,9,10. Alternative approaches have used randomly textured surfaces11,12,13 as strong light diffusers to benefit from their broadband and wide-angle properties. Here, we propose a new strategy for photon management in thin films that combines both advantages of an efficient trapping due to coherent optical effects and broadband/wide-angle properties due to disorder. Our approach consists of the excitation of electromagnetic modes formed by multiple light scattering and wave interference in two-dimensional random media. We show, by numerical calculations, that the spectral and angular responses of thin films containing disordered photonic patterns are intimately related to the in-plane light transport process and can be tuned through structural correlations. Our findings, which are applicable to all waves, are particularly suited for improving the absorption efficiency of thin-film solar cells and can provide a new approach for high-extraction-efficiency light-emitting diodes.

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Acknowledgements

This work is supported by the Eu NoE Nanophotonics for Energy Efficiency, the Italian CNR project EFOR and ENI S.p.A. We gratefully acknowledge P. Barthelemy, J. Bertolotti and T. Svensson for insightful discussions.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. European Laboratory for Non-linear Spectroscopy (LENS), University of Florence, Via Nello Carrara 1, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (FI), Italy

    • Kevin Vynck
    • , Matteo Burresi
    • , Francesco Riboli
    •  & Diederik S. Wiersma
  2. Istituto Nazionale di Ottica (CNR-INO), Largo Fermi 6, 50125 Firenze (FI), Italy

    • Matteo Burresi
    •  & Diederik S. Wiersma

Authors

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Contributions

All authors developed the concept. K.V. carried out the numerical simulations. K.V. and M.B. performed the data analysis. All authors discussed and interpreted the results. K.V. prepared the manuscript with suggestions from M.B., F.R. and D.S.W.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kevin Vynck.

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