News & AnalysisSolar Energy

Performance of Nanowire Solar Cells on the Rise

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Science  18 Jan 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6117, pp. 263
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6117.263

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There's no shortage of ways to convert sunlight into electricity. Solar cells made from silicon, thin semiconductor alloy films, and even plastics are all commercial technologies. About 10 years ago, researchers began to consider a new alternative: using arrays of tiny, semiconducting nanowires to harvest light and produce power. But for years their performance lagged far behind other technologies. Now, nanowire photovoltaics are on the ascent. In a paper published online this week in Science, researchers report creating nanowire solar cells that convert 13.8% of the energy in sunlight into electricity, and several other groups are also hot on the trail.