Collection of hot electrons generated by the efficient absorption of light in metallic nanostructures, in contact with semiconductor substrates can provide a basis for the construction of solar energy-conversion devices. Herein, we evaluate theoretically the energy-conversion efficiency of systems that rely on internal photoemission processes at metal-semiconductor Schottky-barrier diodes. In this theory, the current-voltage characteristics are given by the internal photoemission yield as well as by the thermionic dark current over a varied-energy barrier height. The Fowler model, in all cases, predicts solar energy-conversion efficiencies of <1% for such systems. However, relaxation of the assumptions regarding constraints on the escape cone and momentum conservation at the interface yields solar energy-conversion efficiencies as high as 1%-10%, under some assumed (albeit optimistic) operating conditions. Under these conditions, the energy-conversion efficiency is mainly limited by the thermionic dark current, the distribution of hot electron energies, and hot-electron momentum considerations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)