Issue 3, 2011

High-performance Si microwire photovoltaics


Crystalline Si wires, grown by the vapor–liquid–solid (VLS) process, have emerged as promising candidate materials for low-cost, thin-film photovoltaics. Here, we demonstrate VLS-grown Si microwires that have suitable electrical properties for high-performance photovoltaic applications, including long minority-carrier diffusion lengths (Ln ≫ 30 µm) and low surface recombination velocities (S ≪ 70 cm·s−1). Single-wire radial p–n junction solar cells were fabricated with amorphous silicon and silicon nitride surface coatings, achieving up to 9.0% apparent photovoltaic efficiency, and exhibiting up to ∼600 mV open-circuit voltage with over 80% fill factor. Projective single-wire measurements and optoelectronic simulations suggest that large-area Si wire-array solar cells have the potential to exceed 17% energy-conversion efficiency, offering a promising route toward cost-effective crystalline Si photovoltaics.

Graphical abstract: High-performance Si microwire photovoltaics

  • This article is part of the themed collection: Solar energy

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
12 Oct 2010
24 Nov 2010
First published
07 Jan 2011

Energy Environ. Sci., 2011,4, 866-871

High-performance Si microwire photovoltaics

M. D. Kelzenberg, D. B. Turner-Evans, M. C. Putnam, S. W. Boettcher, R. M. Briggs, J. Y. Baek, N. S. Lewis and H. A. Atwater, Energy Environ. Sci., 2011, 4, 866 DOI: 10.1039/C0EE00549E

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