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Nanophotonics: From Research to Driving Competitiveness in Solar Cells

Jointly with European Photovoltaic Technology PlatformNanophotonics Europe Association and Nanophotonics for Energy Efficiency Network of Excellence, and with the support of Photonics21 and EPIC

Day: Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Time: 13:30 – 18:30
Access: Open to all registered participants of the EU PVSEC 2014


A forum for the Nanophotonics and Photovoltaics communities to exchange ideas, to inform one another of latest developments, issues, challenges and opportunities, and to discuss joint future activities.


The Photovoltaics and Nanophotonics communities have recognised the need to work together in order to achieve results that will bring the field well beyond existing approaches and technologies. In order to reach that goal, information flow and collaborations between the two communities need to be strengthened, so that nanophotonics ideas can eventually become practically applicable and scalable, thus significantly contributing to increased competitiveness.
The Nanophotonics community is largely concerned with increased light trapping and is exploring a variety of avenues to achieve this. The real problem, however, is to demonstrate enhanced efficiency in working solar cells or maintaining efficiency while drastically reducing device thickness. Credible
comparisons with state-of-the-art technologies should be pursued. The two communities need to work together to achieve this.

The meeting aimed to address the following questions

What does the Photovoltaics community expect from nanophotonics? What can nanophotonics offer to photovoltaics? How can interaction and collaboration between the two communities be enhanced? Where and how can we work together?

workshop picture

Programme Outline

13:30 – 13:40            Welcome and Introduction, Wim C. Sinke (European Photovoltaic Technology Platform) and Gonçal Badenes (Nanophotonics Europe Association, Nanophotonics for Energy Efficiency NoE) icon EU-PVSEC2014 - Badenes - Introduction
13:40 – 14:00            Nanophotonic light management for solar cells - Fundamentals, limitations, and opportunities, Uwe Rau, Director IEK5-Photovoltaics (Forschungszentrum Jülich) icon EU-PVSEC2014 - Rau - Nanophotonic Light Management for Solar Cells – Fundamentals, Limitations and Opportunities

14:00 – 14:20            Photonic structures for light trapping in thin-film silicon solar cells, Lucio Claudio Andreani, Professor (Università degli Studi di Pavia) icon EU-PVSEC2014 - Andreani - Photonic structures for light trapping in thin-film silicon solar cells
14:20 – 14:50            Small molecule OPV: From the lab to roll-to-roll production, Toni Müller, Team Leader Lifetime and Characterization (Heliatek GmbH) icon EU-PVSEC2014 - Müller - Small-molecule OPV: From the Lab to Roll-to-Roll Production

14:50 – 15:15            Coffee Break

15:15 – 15:45            What can nanophotonics offer the photovoltaic industry?, Kylie Catchpole, Associate Professor (Australian National University) icon EU-PVSEC2014 - Catchpole - What can nanophotonics offer the photovoltaic industry?

15:45 – 16:05            Nanophotonics for highly efficient silicon solar cells and beyond, Jan Christoph Goldschmidt, Head of Team Novel Solar Cell Concepts (Fraunhofer ISE) icon EU-PVSEC2014 - Goldschmidt - Nanophotonics for High-Efficiency Silicon Solar Cells and Beyond

16:05 – 16:25            Understanding at the nanoscale to drive solar at the TW scale, Erik Garnett, Group Leader Nanoscale Solar Cells (AMOLF) icon EU-PVSEC2014 - Garnett - Understanding at the nanoscale to drive solar at the TW scale

16:25 – 16:45            EMIRI - Establishing Industrial Leadership of EU in Advanced Materials for low-carbon energy & energy efficiency technologies – The case of PV, Fabrice Stassin, Managing Director (Energy Materials Industrial Research Initiative Association) icon EU-PVSEC2014 - Stassin - A Strategy and Implementation Plan for Advanced Materials for PV during Horizon 2020

16:45 – 17:10            Coffee Break

17:10 – 17:40            From 0 to 20 (percent)  – in two years – perovskite based photovoltaics – separating hype from hope, Christopher Case, Chief Technology Officer (Oxford PV) icon EU-PVSEC2014 - Case - From 0 to 20 % in two years Perovskite based photovoltaics – separating hype from hope

17:40 – 18:30            Panel/Discussion, Moderator: Thomas Krauss (York Univ.)

Panel session

Executive Summary

The Photovoltaics community continues to look towards Nanophotonics with great expectation, especially as the need for novel concepts is clearly recognised as a driver for future innovation and commercial competitiveness of the sector.

A healthy mix of representatives from academia, industry and research institutes contributed their thoughts, which sparked a lively discussion amongst speakers and audience alike.

Following last year's event, which set the challenge of demonstrating the benefit of novel concepts in real photovoltaic devices, the nanophotonics community is addressing the challenge in a number of ways. The challenge had been posed by Stefan Glunz of the Fraunhofer ISE, who also received the Becquerel Prize for his pioneering work in high-efficiency silicon solar cells at the same meeting. Jan Christoph Goldschmidt, Head of Team Novel Solar Cell Concepts, Fraunhofer ISE responded to the challenge by reporting progress towards making "good cells better" using nanophotonic light trapping concepts. He also reported new work on using local field enhancement for the upconversion of long wavelength into shorter wavelength photons, thereby converting non-photoactive light into photocurrent. Lucio Andreani, Professor at the University of Pavia, highlighted the interplay between photonic and electronic properties of nanostructured solar cells, and showed that both could be satisfied with careful design.

An unexpected benefit of using plasmonic field enhancement was reported by Erik Garnett, Group Leader Nanoscale Solar Cells at AMOLF, in the context of thin films loaded with silver nanowires to act as transparent conductors. He showed that plasmonic hotspots could be used to weld the nanowires together, thereby improving the electrical conductivity of the thin films, to the extent that they could rival or even outperform ITO in terms of both conductivity and transparency.

Roll-to roll processing for organic solar cells was discussed by Toni Müller, Team Leader Lifetime and Characterization, Heliatek GmbH, and was identified as a promising method for imprinting nanostructures into solar cells, also given the fact that holographic Christmas-wrapping paper is being produced cheaply by a similar process.

Kylie Catchpole, Associate Professor, Australian National University, highlighted that the next generation of high-performance tandem cells could benefit significantly from light trapping and related nanophotonic techniques, but that it was much more difficult to implement than in single junction cells, hence providing an exciting challenge. She also identified the new generation of perovskite materials as a prime candidate for the top cell of a tandem. In the final presentation, Christopher Case, Chief Technology Officer of Oxford PV, then expanded on the properties and opportunities of perovskite materials, also pointing out the opportunity of using them in building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). In the discussion, light trapping was mentioned as a way to reduce material thickness, thereby improving electrical transport properties while maintaining optical absorption.

Research into nanophotonics is actively addressing potential applications across a wide range of subjects and particularly in photovoltaics, with European groups leading at the worldwide level, but the connection to industry is still relatively weak. If these connections can be strengthened, European industry will be in an exceptional position to exploit nanophotonics and deliver novel technological solutions. This represents a phenomenal opportunity that should not be missed.




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