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Efficient photovoltage multiplication in carbon nanotubes

Nature Photonics volume 5, pages 672676 (2011) | Download Citation

Abstract

Carbon nanotubes are direct-bandgap materials that are not only useful for nanoelectronic applications1,2, but also have the potential to make a significant impact on the next generation of photovoltaic technology3,4,5. A semiconducting single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT) has an unusual band structure, as a result of which high-efficiency carrier multiplication effects have been predicted and observed6,7 and films of SWCNTs with absorption close to 100% have been reported8. Other features that are also important for photovoltaic applications include high mobility9,10 and the availability of ohmic contacts for both electrons11,12 and holes13. However, the photovoltage generated from a typical semiconducting SWCNT is less than 0.2 V, which is too small for most practical photovoltaic applications. Here, we show that this value may be readily multiplied by using virtual contacts at the carbon nanotube. In one example, more than 1.0 V is generated from a 10-μm-long carbon nanotube with a single-cell photovoltage of 0.2 V.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology (grant nos 2011CB933002 and 2011CB933001), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, and National Science Foundation of China (grant nos 61071013, 61001016, 51072006 and 60971003).

Author information

Author notes

    • Leijing Yang
    •  & Sheng Wang

    These authors contributed equally to this work

Affiliations

  1. Key Laboratory for the Physics and Chemistry of Nanodevices, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China

    • Leijing Yang
    • , Sheng Wang
    • , Qingsheng Zeng
    • , Zhiyong Zhang
    • , Tian Pei
    • , Yan Li
    •  & Lian-Mao Peng
  2. Department of Electronics, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China

    • Leijing Yang
    • , Sheng Wang
    • , Qingsheng Zeng
    • , Zhiyong Zhang
    • , Tian Pei
    •  & Lian-Mao Peng
  3. Academy for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China

    • Leijing Yang
  4. College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China

    • Yan Li

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Contributions

L.J.Y. and S.W. were responsible for the experimental work. Y.L. was responsible for the growth of the SWCNTs. L.M.P. conceived the project and supervised the research work. All authors discussed the results and contributed to the preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lian-Mao Peng.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2011.250

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