PHOTONIC AND PLASMONIC SOLAR ENERGY CONVERSION
The main driving force in current photovoltaic research is the desire for cheaper and more efficient devices. We have taken two approaches to this problem by considering the photonic aspects of light absorption in thin layers and the thermodynamic requirements of such devices. We find that the use of photonic and plasmonic waveguiding and light localization can greatly improve the absorption characteristics of thin film solar cells and lead to absorption enhancements in excess of the traditional light trapping limit of 4n2, where n is the index of refraction of the absorber. Further, by considering the photonic aspects of the detailed balance formulation of solar converters, we find several interesting directions to improve solar cell efficiencies, e.g. by modifying the radiative recombination rate. In this talk, I will overview our recent results and on-going experiments aimed at next generation photovoltaics.
Jeremy Munday is currently an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Maryland. He received his PhD in Physics from Harvard in 2008, under the supervision of Federico Capasso, and his BS in Physics and Astronomy from Middle Tennessee State University in 2003. He was a postdoctoral scholar in the group of Harry Atwater at Caltech until 2011 when he moved to UMD. His research endeavors range from near field optics, photonics, and plasmonics for energy harvesting to quantum electromechanical phenomena (such as the Casimir effect) for manipulating micro- and nano-mechanical devices. He has received a number of recognitions, including the NASA Early Career Faculty Space Technology Research Award.