Scattered Enhancement

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Science  03 Jun 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6034, pp. 1129
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6034.1129-c

One route to enhance the operation of solar cells is to mop up as much of the incident light as possible for subsequent conversion into useful electric current. However, there tends to be a tradeoff between the cost associated with fabricating a complex structure, as well as the amount of material used, and the overall payoff in terms of improved performance. A simple approach is to use a randomly textured back surface reflector to increase the chance of absorption. The optical properties of metal nanoparticles, particularly their ability to strongly scatter light, have made them targets for exploration. Moreover, nanoparticles can couple the scattered light into a nearby dielectric. Spinelli et al. use simulations to systematically study how the shape and size of silver nanoparticles influence the scattering of light into a dielectric substrate. Their results provide a method to better understand the scattering and incoupling processes involved and the possibility of optimizing optoelectronic sensors and photovoltaics at the design stage.

Opt. Express 19, 303 (2011).

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