Practical roadmap and limits to nanostructured photovoltaics

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Adv. Mater., Wiley Online Library, Volume 23, Issue 48, p.5712-5727 (2011)




2011, 2013 and earlier


The significant research interest in the engineering of photovoltaic (PV) structures at the nanoscale is directed toward enabling reductions in PV
module fabrication and installation costs as well as improving cell power
conversion efficiency (PCE). With the emergence of a multitude of
nanostructured photovoltaic (nano-PV) device architectures, the question
has arisen of where both the practical and the fundamental limits of
performance reside in these new systems. Here, the former is addressed a
posteriori. The specific challenges associated with improving the
electrical power conversion efficiency of various nano-PV technologies are
discussed and several approaches to reduce their thermal losses beyond the
single bandgap limit are reviewed. Critical considerations related to the
module lifetime and cost that are unique to nano-PV architectures are also
addressed. The analysis suggests that a practical single-junction
laboratory power conversion efficiency limit of 17% and a two-cell tandem
power conversion efficiency limit of 24% are possible for nano-PVs, which,
when combined with operating lifetimes of 10 to 15 years, could position
them as a transformational technology for solar energy markets.