Moura Dias Mendes, Manuel Joao de
Desarrollo de estructuras nanofotonicas de campo cercano para intensificacion localizada de luz en celulas solares de banda intermedia - Near-field nanophotonic structures for localized light enhancement in intermediate band solar cells.
Thesis (Doctoral), E.T.S.I. Telecomunicación (UPM).
This doctoral thesis explores some of the possibilities that near-field optics can bring to photovoltaics, and in particular to quantum-dot intermediate band solar cells (QD-IBSCs). Our main focus is the analytical optimization of the electric field distribution produced in the vicinity of single scattering particles, in order to produce the highest possible absorption enhancement in the photovoltaic medium in their surroundings. Near-field scattering structures have also been fabricated in laboratory, allowing the application of the previously studied theoretical concepts to real devices. We start by looking into the electrostatic scattering regime, which is only applicable to sub-wavelength sized particles. In this regime it was found that metallic nano-spheroids can produce absorption enhancements of about two orders of magnitude on the material in their vicinity, due to their strong plasmonic resonance. The frequency of such resonance can be tuned with the shape of the particles, allowing us to match it with the optimal transition energies of the intermediate band material. Since these metallic nanoparticles (MNPs) are to be inserted inside the cell photovoltaic medium, they should be coated by a thin insulating layer to prevent electron-hole recombination at their surface. This analysis is then generalized, using an analytical separation-of-variables method implemented in Mathematica7.0, to compute scattering by spheroids of any size and material. This code allowed the study of the scattering properties of wavelengthsized particles (mesoscopic regime), and it was verified that in this regime dielectric spheroids perform better than metallic. The light intensity scattered from such dielectric spheroids can have more than two orders of magnitude than the incident intensity, and the focal region in front of the particle can be shaped in several ways by changing the particle geometry and/or material. Experimental work was also performed in this PhD to implement in practice the concepts studied in the analysis of sub-wavelength MNPs. A wet-coating method was developed to self-assemble regular arrays of colloidal MNPs on the surface of several materials, such as silicon wafers, amorphous silicon films, gallium arsenide and glass. A series of thermal and chemical tests have been performed showing what treatments the nanoparticles can withstand for their embedment in a photovoltaic medium. MNPs arrays are then inserted in an amorphous silicon medium to study the effect of their plasmonic near-field enhancement on the absorption spectrum of the material. The self-assembled arrays of MNPs constructed in these experiments inspired a new strategy for fabricating IBSCs using colloidal quantum dots (CQDs). Such CQDs can be deposited in self-assembled monolayers, using procedures similar to those developed for the patterning of colloidal MNPs. The use of CQDs to form the intermediate band presents several important practical and physical advantages relative to the conventional dots epitaxially grown by the Stranski-Krastanov method. Besides, this provides a fast and inexpensive method for patterning binary arrays of QDs and MNPs, envisioned in the theoretical part of this thesis, in which the MNPs act as antennas focusing the light in the QDs and therefore boosting their absorption