Rainbows Created on Nanoscale Structures Can Improve Solar Cell Efficiency

King’s College London has a tradition of investigating color separation and projection. Research conducted at the institution 150 years ago eventually led to the development of color television and LED displays. A paper published in Nature’s Scientific Reports reports researchers in King’s College Department of Physics have develop a method which allows for the manipulation of color at the nanoscale level.

This technique provides a critical step for further advancements in imaging, spectroscopy (absorption and emission of light), detection of chemical and biological agents, and solar cell technology. The ground-breaking research can also improve LED technology for flat screen televisions and displays.

Led by Professor Anatoly Zayats, scientists devised a procedure, which segments colors and builds “rainbows,” by fabricating nanoscale structures on a metal substrate. Nanoscale structures consist of nanowires, nanotubes, and nanorods.

Utilizing specially designed nanostructures, the researchers found they could trap assorted colors of light at various positions on a surface area. Based on the geometric shaped of a nanostructure, scientists have the ability to form a trapped rainbow on a gold film that is 100 times smaller than the width of a dimension of a human hair.

In a natural rainbow’s alignment, the color red normally appears on the outer side and the color blue exists on the inner side. During the course of their research, scientists fabricated nanostructures and controlled the order of the appearance of the rainbow’s colors. They accomplished this step by controlling the parameters of the nanostructures.

According to Professor Zayats, the researchers will continue to investigate the construction of different kinds of nanostructures and the potential the technology holds for increasing the light absorption efficiency of solar cells.

The team also found out that they could separate colors on different parts of nanostructures. “The effects demonstrated here will be important to provide ‘color’ sensitivity in infrared imaging systems for security and product control. It will also enable the construction of micro-scale spectrometers for sensing applications,” said Dr Jean-Sebastien Bouillard, co-author of the report.

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