Matrix-Embedded Silicon Quantum Dots for Photovoltaic Applications: A Theoretical Study of Critical Factors

Jun Wei Luo, Paul Stradins, Alex Zunger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus Citations


Si Quantum dots (QD's) are offering the possibilities for improving the efficiency and lowering the cost of solar cells. In this paper we study the PV-related critical factors that may affect design of Si QDs solar cell by performing atomistic calculation including many-body interaction. First, we find that the weak absorption in bulk Si is significantly enhanced in Si QDs, specially in small dot size, due to quantum-confinement induced mixing of Γ-character into the X-like conduction band states. We demonstrate that the atomic symmetry of Si QD also plays an important role on its bandgap and absorption spectrum. Second, quantum confinement has a detrimental effect on another PV property - it significantly enhances the exciton binding energy in Si QDs, leading to difficulty in charge separation. We observe universal linear dependence of exciton binding energy versus excitonic gap for all Si QDs. Knowledge of this universal linear function will be helpful to obtain experimentally the exciton binding energy by just measuring the optical gap without requiring knowledge on dot shape, size, and surface treatment. Third, we evaluate the possibility of resonant charge transport in an array of Si QDs via miniband channels created by dot-dot coupling. We show that for such charge transport the Si QDs embedded into a matrix should have tight size tolerances and be very closely spaced. Fourth, we find that the loss of quantum confinement effect induced by dot-dot coupling is negligible - smaller than 70 meV even for two dots at intimate contact.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2546-2557
Number of pages12
JournalEnergy and Environmental Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2011

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-51374


  • quantum dots
  • solar cells


Dive into the research topics of 'Matrix-Embedded Silicon Quantum Dots for Photovoltaic Applications: A Theoretical Study of Critical Factors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this