Performance-limiting factors for GaAs-based single nanowire photovoltaics

Xufeng Wang, Purdue University, Birck Nanotechnology Center
Mohammad Ryyan Khan, Purdue University, Birck Nanotechnology Center
Mark S. Lundstrom, Purdue University, Birck Nanotechnology Center
Peter Bermel, Purdue University, Birck Nanotechnology Center

Date of this Version



GaAs nanowires (NWs) offer the possibility of decoupling light absorption from charge transport for high-performance photovoltaic (PV) devices. However, it is still an open question as to whether these devices can exceed the Shockley-Queisser efficiency limit for single-junction PV. In this work, single standing GaAs-based nanowire solar cells in both radial and vertical junction configurations is analyzed and compared to a planar thin-film design. By using a self-consistent, electrical-optically coupled 3D simulator, we show the design principles for nanowire and planar solar cells are significantly different; nanowire solar cells are vulnerable to surface and contact recombination, while planar solar cells suffer significant losses due to imperfect backside mirror reflection. Overall, the ultimate efficiency of the GaAs nanowire solar cell with radial and vertical junction is not expected to exceed that of the thin-film design, with both staying below the Shockley-Queisser limit. (C)2014 Optical Society of America


Nanoscience and Nanotechnology