Nanowires for Photovoltaics and Artificial Photosynthesis
As the world's population grows and modernizes, developing inexpensive and efficient technologies for solar energy conversion is becoming increasingly important. Photovoltaics and artificial photosynthesis are two approaches for transforming solar energy into a usable form, either electricity or chemical fuels. While both technologies have been actively researched for decades, semiconductor nanowires possess unique properties that make them promising candidates for efficient photovoltaics and artificial photosynthesis. Because many optical and electronic processes occur over nanometer length scales, nanowires can offer improved capabilities to absorb light, collect photogenerated charges, and perform chemical reactions, functions that are all essential for solar energy conversion. Additionally, the increasing dexterity with which scientists synthesize, fabricate, and integrate nanoscale structures suggests that efficient devices that can take full advantage of these unique properties are not too far in the future.