Photonic crystal patterns for light trapping in Si solar cells are developed via different process flows: 1) step-and-repeat projection lithography with lift-off or 2) laser ablation and subsequent etching dry or/and wet. Both methods are amenable for large area (2×2 cm2) fabrication and can be used to break the ray-optics light trapping limit. This is required to surpass the record high efficiency ∼ 26% of solar-to-electrical power conversion of Si solar cells and approach the theoretical limit of ∼ 30%. Also, standard electron beam lithography (EBL) was used to define Si3N4 or Cr masks for wet KOH etching on silicon-on-insulator (SOI) and Si wafers. Direct laser writing of the etch mask by ablation (10 nJ, 515 nm, 230 fs pulses) has an advantage due to its scalability. The large area patterning is important for industrial application of direct laser writing of light trapping patterns in solar cells and absorbers/emitters for the IR spectral range.
Mid infrared metasurfaces is one of the key technology for sensors, energy harvesters in renewable society. Especially absorption type of metasurfaces can be applied for mid infrared light source and detectors according to Kirchhoff's law. Here we demonstrate the recent advances of metasurface, fabrication (lithography/lithography free), optical characterization of reflection ,scattering and absorption, photo-thermal energy conversion, and sensing applications in mid infrared wavelength. The experimentally measured optical properties were compared with simulations by finite difference time-domain (FDTD) method and finite element method (FEM).
Light harvesting using photonic crystal (PhC) surface patterns provides an opportunity to surpass the ray-optics defined light trapping and to approach thermodynamic ShockleyQueisser limit of solar cell efficiency, which for a single junction Si solar cell is ~ 32%. For an industry amenable nano-patterning of Si solar cells, we used laser direct write and stepper lithography based approaches for defining a large area (1 cm2) light trapping PhC patterns on silicon. Nanoholes of ~ 500 nm in diameter were fabricated by direct laser writing in a thin layer of chromium to act as a mask for subsequent reactive plasma etching to fabricate the nanostructures forming a PhC surface over a square centimeter. Surface area fabrication throughput was improved by more than order of magnitude as compared with electron beam lithography required to achieve sub-1 μm resolution.
We have developed GaInAsP semiconductor photonic crystal nanolaser biosensor and demonstrated the detection of ultralow-concentration (fM to aM) proteins and deoxyribonucleic acids (DNAs) adsorbed on the device surface. In general, this type of photonic sensors exploiting optical resonance has been considered to detect the refractive index of biomolecules via the wavelength shift. However, this principle cannot explain the detection of such ultralowconcentration. Therefore, we investigated another candidate principle, i.e., ion sensitivity. We consider such a process that 1) the electric charge of biomolecules changes the nanolaser’s surface charge, 2) the Schottky barrier near the semiconductor surface is increased or decreased, 3) the distribution of photopumped carriers is modified by the barrier, 4) the refractive index of the semiconductor is changed by the carrier effects, and 5) the laser wavelength shifts. To confirm this process, we electrochemically measured the zeta and flatband potentials when charged electrolyte polymers were adsorbed in water. We clearly observed that these potentials temporally behaved consistently with that of the laser wavelength, which suggests that polymers significantly acted on the Schottky barrier. The same behaviors were also observed for the adsorption of 1 fM DNA. We consider that a limited number of charged DNA changed the surface functional group of the entire device surface. Such charge effects will be the key that achieves the ultrahigh sensitivity in the nanolaser biosensor.
Pyramidal silicon nanospikes, termed black-Si (b-Si), with controlled height of 0.2 to 1 μm, were fabricated by plasma etching over 3-in wafers and were shown to act as variable density filters in a wide range of the IR spectrum 2.5 to 20 μm, with transmission and its spectral gradient dependent on the height of the spikes. Such variable density IR filters can be utilized for imaging and monitoring applications. Narrow IR notch filters were realized with gold mesh arrays on Si wafers prospective for applications in surface-enhanced IR absorption sensing and “cold materials” for heat radiation into atmospheric IR transmission window. Both types of filters for IR: spectrally variable and notch are made by simple fabrication methods.
Photo-thermal - to - electrical converter is demonstrated by using a commercial Peltier Bi-Te element with a hot contact made out of nanotextured Si (black-Si). Black-Si with colloidal Au nanoparticles is shown to further increase the efficiency of thermal-to-electrical conversion. Peculiarities of heat harvesting using black-Si with plasmonic Au nanoparticles at different gold densities are analyzed. Solar radiation absorption and electric field enhancement in plain and Au nanoparticle decorated black-Si was simulated using finite difference time domain (FDTD) method. Thermal conduction in nanotextured black-Si was explained using phonon Monte-Carlo simulations at the nanoscale. Strategies for creating larger thermal gradient on Peltier element using nanotextured light absorbers is discussed.
Plasmonics and nanoscale antennas have been intensively investigated for sensors, metasurfaces and optical trapping where light control at the nanoscale enables new functionalities. To confine and manipulate the light in tiny spaces sub-wavelength antennas should be used with dimensions from micro- to nano-meters and are still challenging to make. Direct fabrication/modification of nanostructures using focused ion beam (FIB) milling is demonstrated for several types of antennas. Arrays of identical nanoparticles were fabricated in a single step by (i) milling gold films or (ii) by modifying structures which were already defined by electron beam or mask projection lithography. Direct FIB writing enables to exclude resist processing steps, thus making fabrication faster and simpler. Sensor areas of 25x25 μm2 of densely packed nanoparticles separated by tens-of-nanometers were fabricated in half an hour (103 μm2/h throughput at 90 nm resolution). Patterns of chiral nanoparticles by groove inscription is demonstrated. The processing speed and capability to mill complex 3D surfaces due to depth of focus not compromised over micrometers length, makes it possible to reach sub-50 nm resolution of direct write. FIB technology is practical for emerging applications in nano-fabrication/photonic/fluidic/magnetic applications.