RIT Team Explores Use of Nanowires On Silicon for Solar Cells

A Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) research team hopes to maximize how much of the solar spectrum can be used with the help of tandem junction solar cells based on III-V compounds according to Parsian Mohseni, assistant professor of microsystems engineering in RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering.

Parsian Mohseni, RIT Assistant Professor, Awarded $300,000 Grant

Mohseni was recently awarded almost $300,000 in an Early Concepts Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) from the National Science Foundation for exploring the use of nanowire on silicon to expand the spectrum of light that solar cells capture. EAGER grants support high-risk but possibly high-reward transformative technologies.

Tandem junction solar cells group multiple sub-cells. Each subcell can absorb a particular range of a wider solar spectrum band. Mohseni’s has grown a variety of III-V compounds for solar cells using an MOCVD system located in the Semiconductor Manufacturing and Fabrication Lab.

NPRL at RIT Operates MOCVD System

The NanoPower Research Lab (NPRL) operates the MOCVD system. Seth Hubbard, the NPRL director at RIT, serves as Mohseni’s co-principal investigator on the project. Mohseni’s team is developing the crystal growth processes to make these dissimilar materials fit together with fewer defects and gaps. He and his research team plan to utilize vertical nanowire structures with a diameter of about 100 nanometers, and lengths up to several microns.

“If you are trying to absorb material in a film, you want that film to be thick enough to capture more light. If light is not absorbed, it can bounce or reflect off the film surface,” Mohseni explained. “With nanowires, if light comes in, it can still be absorbed, but if it bounces off one wire in the array, instead of going off into infinity, it can be captured by the nearby wire and be re-absorbed. “