Plasmonics for improved photovoltaic devices

  • A Corrigendum to this article was published on 23 September 2010


The emerging field of plasmonics has yielded methods for guiding and localizing light at the nanoscale, well below the scale of the wavelength of light in free space. Now plasmonics researchers are turning their attention to photovoltaics, where design approaches based on plasmonics can be used to improve absorption in photovoltaic devices, permitting a considerable reduction in the physical thickness of solar photovoltaic absorber layers, and yielding new options for solar-cell design. In this review, we survey recent advances at the intersection of plasmonics and photovoltaics and offer an outlook on the future of solar cells based on these principles.

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Figure 1: Optical absorption and carrier diffusion requirements in a solar cell.
Figure 2: Plasmonic light-trapping geometries for thin-film solar cells.
Figure 3: Light scattering and trapping is very sensitive to particle shape.
Figure 4: Characteristics of surface plasmons.
Figure 5: Light scattering into SPP and photonic modes in thin semiconductor films.
Figure 6: New plasmonic solar-cell designs.
Figure 7: Large-area metal nanopatterns for plasmonic solar cells.

Change history

  • 01 September 2010

    In Fig. 1a of the version of this Review originally published, the graph labelled '2-μm-thick Si wafer' is that for a 10-μm-thick wafer. The original figure caption and descriptions in the text are correct. The figure has been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of this Review.


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We thank M. Bonn, K. Catchpole, V. E. Ferry, J. Gomez Rivas, M. Hebbink, J. N. Munday, P. Saeta, W. C. Sinke, R. E. I. Schropp, K. Tanabe, E. Verhagen, M. A. Verschuuren, R. de Waele and E. T. Yu for discussions. This work is supported by the Global Climate and Energy Project. The FOM portion of this work is part of the research programme of FOM and of the Joint Solar Panel programme, which are both financially supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The Caltech portion of this work was supported by the Department of Energy under grant number DOE DE-FG02-07ER46405.

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Atwater, H., Polman, A. Plasmonics for improved photovoltaic devices. Nature Mater 9, 205–213 (2010).

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