In order for photovoltaic (PV) cells to become competitive, their cost must be driven down, and efficiency must increase. The current PV market is dominated by crystalline Si cells, which are able to achieve efficiencies of around 25%, but are expensive to manufacture due to large material and energy inputs. In order to decrease the material cost, the use of cheaper materials such as polycrystalline thin films or organic semiconductors is possible. Additionally, managing light in such a way that the solar resource is concentrated to a smaller area or trapped inside the absorber layer of the cell can decrease the amount of material required for light absorption, and reduce carrier diffusion lengths. To further reduce the cost requires new manufacturing techniques and architectures capable of minimizing loss mechanisms such as recombination, reflection and parasitic resistances, while using low-cost fabrication techniques and material systems. To address this, we have focused on the development of radial p-n junctions in nanowire arrays based on earth-abundant materials, while minimizing the need for high temperature, high vacuum, or cleanroom processing.
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