Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Plasmonic nanostructures could prove a boon to solar cell technology

Do 'plasmonic nanostructures' hold the key to next-generation solar power?  (Photo: Shutte...Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found a way to harvest energy from sunlight more efficiently, with the help of so-called plasmonic nanostructures. The new findings suggest that plasmonic components can enhance and direct optical scattering, creating a mechanism that is more efficient than the photoexcitation that drives solar cells. The development could therefore provide a real boost to solar cell efficiency and lead to faster optical communication.

When photons hit the surface of a solar cell, the energy they carry is absorbed by the atoms of a doped semiconductor. If the energy absorbed is higher than a set threshold, known as the energy gap, then electrons are set free and can be used to generate electricity.

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