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Pure Appl. Chem., 2012, Vol. 84, No. 12, pp. 2629-2639

Published online 2012-07-03

Electronic interactions of silicon nanocrystals and nanocarbon materials: Hybrid solar cells

Vladimir Švrček1* and Davide Mariotti2

1 Research Center for Photovoltaic Technologies, AIST, Tsukuba, 305-8568, Japan
2 Nanotechnology & Integrated Bio-Engineering Centre (NIBEC), University of Ulster, Newtownabbey, BT37 0QB, UK

Abstract: Hybrid inorganic/nanocarbon solar cells represent low-cost solutions for the large-scale manufacturing of energy conversion devices. Here we discuss results that relate to the electronic interactions of nanocarbon materials with freestanding and surfactant-free silicon nanocrystals (Si-ncs) with quantum confinement effects, integrated in bulk-heterojunction solar cells. In particular, we demonstrate the feasibility of bulk-heterojunction photovoltaic solar cells that consist of Si-ncs combined with fullerenes or with semiconducting single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs). We show that the energy levels between Si-ncs with energy gap exceeding 1.75 eV and fullerenes are adequate for exciton dissociation and carriers (electrons/holes) generation and that hybrid solar cells formed by Si-ncs and semi-conducting SWCNTs favor exciton dissociation only when a distinct chiral index [i.e., (7,5)] is used. While fullerenes show energy conversion capabilities in the visible spectral region (1.7–3.1 eV), the cells containing the SWCNTs, in comparison, have a considerably expanded optical response covering a broad range of the spectrum (0.9–3.1 eV).