Surface plasmon enhanced thin-film photovoltaic systems
Agency / Branch:
DOD / USAF
This Small Business Technology Transfer Research phase I program will develop a new class of surface plasmon enhanced photovoltaic devices that exhibit increased current collection. Photon management, the manipulation of the incident optical field to increase the probability that a photon is absorbed in the active region of the cell, is critical to the development of next generation thin film solar cells. There is recent evidence that incorporating metallic nanostructures designed to support surface plasmons (SPs) into solar cells can provide this kind of control. While the possibility of using SP modes to optimize optical absorption in thin film solar cells is very intriguing, studies to date have largely been empirical and key questions about the origin of efficiency enhancements must be addressed. This program will examine the fundamental mechanisms involved through closely coupled finite element modeling, nanofabrication of well defined structures and detailed optical characterization. The improved understanding will lead to the design of highly effective structures for improved photovoltaic efficiency. BENEFIT: Markets for photovoltaics exist in both the private and federal government sector. Private sector markets include off-grid applications (such as agricultural water pumping, emergency telecommunications, mobile road signs, supplementary power in watercraft, and household power in areas that are not grid-connected or where the grid is unreliable), rooftop installations, and utility-owned solar installations that help meet state-mandated requirements on renewable power generation. The United States Department of Defense is the largest single domestic consumer of energy, $1B per year of which is spent on electricity for off-grid facilities. Infiltration into large off-grid foreign markets would reduce the United States trade deficit and strengthen the competitiveness in the worldwide market. With continued decreases in photovoltaic costs, it is projected that the worldwide photovoltaic market will be worth $10-15B in 2020 and responsible for some 150,000 jobs here in the United States.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Research Institution Information:
ITN Energy Systems, Inc.
8130 Shaffer Parkway Littleton, CO 80127
Number of Employees:
Colorado School of Mines
1500 Illinois St.
Golden, CO 80401