A photovoltaic device structure based on internal electron emission

McFarland, Eric W. and Tang, Jing (2003) A photovoltaic device structure based on internal electron emission. Nature, 421 6923: 616-618. doi:10.1038/nature01316

Author McFarland, Eric W.
Tang, Jing
Title A photovoltaic device structure based on internal electron emission
Journal name Nature   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0028-0836
Publication date 2003-02-06
Sub-type Letter to editor, brief commentary or brief communication
DOI 10.1038/nature01316
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 421
Issue 6923
Start page 616
End page 618
Total pages 3
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Language eng
Formatted abstract
There has been an active search for cost-effective photovoltaic devices since the development of the first solar cells in the 1950s (refs 1-3). In conventional solid-state solar cells, electron-hole pairs are created by light absorption in a semiconductor, with charge separation and collection accomplished under the influence of electric fields within the semiconductor. Here we report a multilayer photovoltaic device structure in which photon absorption instead occurs in photoreceptors deposited on the surface of an ultrathin metal-semiconductor junction Schottky diode. Photoexcited electrons are transferred to the metal and travel ballistically to - and over - the Schottky barrier, so providing the photocurrent output. Low-energy (∼1 eV) electrons have surprisingly long ballistic path lengths in noble metals, allowing a large fraction of the electrons to be collected. Unlike conventional cells, the semiconductor in this device serves only for majority charge transport and separation. Devices fabricated using a fluorescein photoreceptor on an Au/TiO2/Ti multilayer structure had typical open-circuit photovoltages of 600-800 mV and shortcircuit photocurrents of 10-18 μA cm-2 under 100mW cm-2 visible band illumination: the internal quantum efficiency (electrons measured per photon absorbed) was 10 per cent. This alternative approach to photovoltaic energy conversion might provide the basis for durable low-cost solar cells using a variety of materials.
Q-Index Code CX
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Letter to editor, brief commentary or brief communication
Collection: School of Chemical Engineering Publications
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