Multiple Exciton Generation in Semiconductor Nanocrystals: Toward Efficient Solar Energy Conversion

Matthew C. Beard, Randy J. Ellingson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus Citations


Within the range of photon energies illuminating the Earth's surface, absorption of a photon by a conventional photovoltaic semiconductor device results in the production of a single electron-hole pair; energy of a photon in excess of the semiconductor's bandgap is efficiently converted to heat through electron and hole interactions with the crystal lattice. Recently, colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals and nanocrystal films have been shown to exhibit efficient multiple electron-hole pair generation from a single photon with energy greater than twice the effective band gap. This multiple carrier pair process, referred to as multiple exciton generation (MEG), represents one route to reducing the thermal loss in semiconductor solar cells and may lead to the development of low cost, high efficiency solar energy devices. We review the current experimental and theoretical understanding of MEG, and provide views to the near-term future for both fundamental research and the development of working devices which exploit MEG. A figure is presented. Absorption of a single photon with energy in excess of two times the band gap, Eg, produces multiple excitons at the band edge. TEM picture of typical PbSe nonocrystals.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)377-399
Number of pages23
JournalLaser and Photonics Reviews
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2008

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-590-43059


  • exciton
  • nanocrystals
  • semiconductors


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