Nanophotovoltaics

AMOLF’s research center Light Management in New Photovoltaic Materials (LMPV) develops fundamental understanding of the interaction of light with photovoltaic nanomaterials, and applies this knowledge to realize photovoltaic conversion concepts that surpass existing technology. Our PV research has spin-offs in fundamental nanophotonics, device physics, electron microscopy, and many aspects of physics beyond PV.

Examples of LMPV research questions:

  • Can we assemble single-crystalline perovskite nanocubes into monocrystalline sheets?
  • How does ion migration affect the efficiency of perovskite solar cells?
  • How to grow high-quality III-V semiconductor nanostructures using nanoelectrochemistry?
  • How to create efficient upconversion for PV energy conversion?
  • What is the best light scattering backreflector nanodesign for III-V/Si tandem solar cells?

Answering these questions requires synthesis and development of entirely new materials and solar cell architectures. It requires fundamental research on hybridizing strategies combining concepts from dielectric and plasmonic metasurfaces and metamaterials, with the management of light on length scales from the molecular scale to that of a solar panel. Our work also involves harnessing extreme materials properties to reach the limits of what is possible under reciprocity and thermodynamics. The LMPV program’s primary goal is to achieve fundamental understanding of basic physical phenomena that are relevant for future application in photovoltaics. In many cases, demonstrator devices are made as well, either at AMOLF or with external collaborators.

Some short facts about the LMPV research center:

  • Formal PV research collaborations with: Cambridge University (UK), Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Research (Freiburg), TNO Energy Transition
  • Other PV collaborations: EPFL, UNSW, Caltech, and many PV laboratories all over the world, and with all PV groups at Dutch universities
  • Trained 43 PhDs & postdocs to become: assistant professor (6), postdoc/academic (9), company (17), technology institute (6), other (5)
  • Trained 60 master’s students to become: PhD student (25), consultant/analyst (8), technology Institute (4), company (7), other (1)
  • 34% of the former LMPV staff works in the sustainability field
  • PV class: LMPV co-teaches the Photovoltaics class in the Advanced Materials and Energy Program (AMEP) at the University of Amsterdam
  • Industrial collaborations (contracts): Amsterdam Scientific Instruments, Delmic, ThermoFisher, Nanonics, Shell, Tempress, Exasun, HyET Solar
  • National coordination: LMPV leads the SOLARLab national PV network and coordinates many activities within PV research in the Netherlands, most recently in the Nationaal Groeifonds application Duurzame MaterialenNL
33%-efficient tandem solar cell made by combining a nanopatterned light trapping geometry made at AMOLF with Si/III-V technology developed by Fraunhofer ISE.
EBSD map of grain orientation of halide perovskite thin films for solar cells