Meet Adamprofile-Adam-2

Name: Adam Silvernail
Research interest: Nanoscale Light Trapping for Improving PV Efficiency

Research Summary

Solar energy is harnessed through the conversion of light energy from the sun into electricity through the photovoltaic effect.  A major challenge of PV systems is minimizing optical losses due to reflection and absorption outside of the cell absorber layers.  The focus of my research is to maximize the amount of light usable by solar cells to maximize efficiency and power output through light trapping.  Light trapping involves optimizing cell design and  module format, as well as choosing materials with appropriate properties and refractive index for antireflective surfaces and total internal reflection.  Through photonic crystal technology and surface texturing schemes, we can increase the effective light path length of a cell, improving the quantum efficiency and absorption of practically any cell.  This will allowing cheaper yet mediocre solar cells to become more viable for use in the market, as well as push the boundaries for the world’s most efficient solar cell technology.  Light trapping can also be used to effectively concentrate the density of light within a cell, leading to extra efficiency benefits and compact forms of concentration which are otherwise large in scale and difficult to mass produce and install.

Current concepts of interest include:

·         Relating the geometrically optical and theoretical limits of light path enhancement and concentration

·         Designing an effective light trapping scheme for maximizing light path within a solar cell by modifying the front and back surface layers, as well as general module layout with or without external concentration.

·         Using photonic crystal technology to design and fabricate nanostructures for novel light trapping schemes.