First Advisor

Rolf Konenkamp

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Physics






Antireflection, Effective media, Zinc oxide, Solar cells -- Optical properties, Reflectance, Nanowires



Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 86 p.) : ill. (chiefly col.)


The optical properties of solar cells greatly affect their efficiencies. Decreasing the broadband and directional reflectance of solar cells increases the solar irradiance transmitted and absorbed by the cell, thereby increasing the production of electron-hole pairs. Traditional optical enhancements such as light trapping and anti-reflection coatings reduce the reflectance of silicon at an optimized wavelength and angle of incidence. They do not perform as well at high angles of incidence or over the broadband solar spectrum. Theoretical studies suggest that layers with a suitable gradient-index of refraction can create both a broadband and directional anti-reflective coating. Through their variations in height and tapered growth, Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanowires can create a gradient index anti-reflection coating. ZnO is a wide-band gap semiconductor that is non-absorbing over most of the solar spectrum. With low cost, low temperature techniques, ZnO nanowires can be grown with a variety of morphologies. ZnO nanowires were grown by aqueous chemical growth and by electrodeposition on silicon to create a gradient-index anti-reflective coating for solar cell applications. The nanowire arrays were characterized using SEM images, goniometer scattering measurements, and integrating sphere total reflectance measurements. ZnO nanowires grown by aqueous chemical growth on silicon had average diameters between 60 nm and 100 nm and average lengths between 800 nm and 1100 nm. The nanowires had vertical alignment. They exhibited relatively small diffuse reflectivities and relatively large specular reflectivities. ZnO nanowires grown by electrodeposition had greater variances in length and diameter, with average diameters between 85 nm and 180 nm and average lengths between 500 nm and 1200 nm. Electrodeposited ZnO nanowires were randomly arrayed and exhibited relatively large diffuse reflectivities and relatively small specular reflectivities. Total reflectance measurements showed that all nanowire arrays reduced the broadband reflectance of silicon. Smaller nanowire arrays outperformed the larger crystal growths. A five-fold decrease in the broadband reflectance of silicon was obtained from both vertical and randomly oriented nanowire arrays. The reflectances were constant for angles of incident below 35°. Measurements at angles of incidence greater than 35° are required to determine whether ZnO nanowires can perform as directional anti-reflective coatings and whether the morphology of the nanowires affects the directional reflectances.


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Portland State University. Dept. of Physics

Persistent Identifier