Composition-graded nanowire solar cells fabricated in a single process for spectrum-splitting photovoltaic systems

Derek Caselli, Zhicheng Liu, David Shelhammer, Cun-Zheng Ning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Nanomaterials such as semiconductor nanowires have unique features that could enable novel optoelectronic applications such as novel solar cells. This paper aims to demonstrate one such recently proposed concept: Monolithically Integrated Laterally Arrayed Multiple Band gap (MILAMB) solar cells for spectrum-splitting photovoltaic systems. Two cells with different band gaps were fabricated simultaneously in the same process on a single substrate using spatially composition-graded CdSSe alloy nanowires grown by the Dual-Gradient Method in a chemical vapor deposition system. CdSSe nanowire ensemble devices tested under 1 sun AM1.5G illumination achieved open-circuit voltages up to 307 and 173 mV and short-circuit current densities as high as 0.091 and 0.974 mA/cm2 for the CdS- and CdSe-rich cells, respectively. The open-circuit voltages were roughly three times those of similar CdSSe film cells fabricated for comparison due to the superior optical quality of the nanowires. I-V measurements were also performed using optical filters to simulate spectrum-splitting. The open-circuit voltages and fill factors of the CdS-rich subcells were uniformly larger than the corresponding CdSe-rich cells for similar photon flux, as expected. This suggests that if all wires can be contacted, the wide-gap cell is expected to have greater output power than the narrow-gap cell, which is the key to achieving high efficiencies with spectrum-splitting. This paper thus provides the first proof-of-concept demonstration of simultaneous fabrication of MILAMB solar cells. This approach to solar cell fabrication using single-crystal nanowires for spectrum-splitting photovoltaics could provide a future low-cost high-efficiency alternative to the conventional high-cost high-efficiency tandem cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5772-5779
Number of pages8
JournalNano Letters
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 8 2014


  • Nanowires
  • composition-graded
  • semiconductor alloys
  • solar cells
  • spectrum-splitting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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