Solar energy conversion via hot electron internal photoemission in metallic nanostructures: Efficiency estimates

Andrew J. Leenheer, Prineha Narang, Nathan S. Lewis, Harry A. Atwater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

87 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number134301
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Volume115
Issue number13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 7 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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