Plasmon Resonance for IMproving the Absorption of solar cells

FP7 - ICT Collaborative Project nr. 248154

The demand for affordable renewable energy is increasing steadily. Electricity generation by photovoltaic cells is one of the main players in this field, but is hampered by its still relatively high cost compared with other sources of energy. Within this project we investigate promising nanotechnology - based strategies to enhance the performance and/or reduce the cost of different solar cell technologies. Specifically we examine the use of metal nanostructures to enhance the optical absorption of light into different types of solar cells, including crystalline Si, high performance III-V, organic and dye-sensitized solar cells. The enhanced absorption can ultimately lead to thinner and therefore less expensive solar cells due to the use of less material. One of the remaining issues in this field, that of better physical insight in the possible plasmonic enhancement mechanisms, will be studied in detail using calculations and experiments on structures with different degrees of complexity. In parallel, we investigate the manufacturability of these nanostructures and the ease of integrating them into existing process flows for solar cells. This will allow us to examine industrially relevant structures, integrate them into solar cells and test their performance. The performance will be bench-marked and assessed by solar cell companies that are participating in the project. European science traditionally is a leader in both the fields of photovoltaics and nanoplasmonics and this project helps to maintain Europe's strong position. Moreover it provides the participating industrial partners with a competitive advantage, which should create employment and sustainable economic growth in Europe, while simultaneously contributing to a reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases.