January 21, 2015

Self-Assembled Nanotextures Create Antireflective Surface on Silicon Solar Cells

Nanostructured surface textures—with shapes inspired by the structure of moths' eyes—prevent the reflection of light off silicon, improving conversion of sunlight to electricity

Reducing the amount of sunlight that bounces off the surface of solar cells helps maximize the conversion of the sun's rays to electricity, so manufacturers use coatings to cut down on reflections. Now scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory show that etching a nanoscale texture onto the silicon material itself creates an antireflective surface that works as well as state-of-the-art thin-film multilayer coatings.