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Nanoscale Applications for Information and Energy Systems

Part of the series Nanostructure Science and Technology pp 77-116

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Nanoscale Photovoltaics and the Terawatt Challenge

  • Stephen M. GoodnickAffiliated withSchool of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, Arizona State University Email author 
  • , Nikolai FaleevAffiliated withSchool of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, Arizona State University
  • , Christiana HonsbergAffiliated withSchool of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, Arizona State University

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Abstract

Achieving a sustainable energy system providing terawatts (TWs) of electricity is one of the defining challenges of the coming decades. Photovoltaic technology provides the most likely path to realizing TW scale conversion of solar energy in the future and has been on a nearly 40% growth curve over the past two decades. In order to maintain this rapid level of growth, innovations in cell design and conversion efficiency are needed that are compatible with existing technology and can lead to improved performance and lower cost. Nanotechnology offers a number of advantages to realizing such innovation, by providing new materials and the implementation of advanced concepts that circumvent the current physical limits on efficiency. This chapter reviews several of the promising applications of nanotechnology to photovoltaic technologies and their prospects for the future.