Light-Harvesting with Single Wall Carbon Nanotubes/n-Silicon Heterojunctions

Technology Overview

This technology is a method to fabricate photovoltaic (PV) devices, such as solar cells. The devices are a hybrid of an n-type semiconductor (such as silica, Si) and single walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT). The method utilizes fabrication processes that are economic, environmentally friendly, and applicable to fabricating devices with a large area. Because SWNTs possess a wide range of direct band gaps matching the solar spectrum, show strong photo absorption infrared to ultraviolet, exhibit high carrier mobility, and reduce carrier transport scattering, this device could potentially yield high power efficiency compared to currently used devices. Initial tests have shown this device to have an efficiency of about 4.5%, which has the potential to be improved through optimization of the fabrication process.


  • Uses well-known underlying technologies: these next generation thin film PV devices are based on know technologies (i.e., silica and SWNT).
  • Improved efficiency: uses of SWNT provides higher efficiency over a wide spectral range.
  • Enabling technology: has the potential to be used for thin film tandem solar cell since the cell has high transparency and high conductivity at long wavelengths.


Some of the potential applications for this device are:

  • Photovoltaic devices
  • Diode component for high-frequency communication
  • Potential replacement of transparent conducting electrode, Indium Tin Oxide

Keywords: carbon nanotubes, photovoltaics, solar energy, renewable energy, thin film photovoltaic, single walled carbon nanotube, SWNT

Inventors: Alexandru S. Biris, Zhongrui Li