Biological Templates for Anti Reflective Current Collectors for Photoelectrochemical  Cell Applications

Biological Templates for Anti Reflective Current Collectors for Photoelectrochemical Cell Applications

Year:2012
Author(s):Chia-Ying Chiang, Jillian Epstein, Adam Brown, Jeremy Munday, James Culver, Sheryl Ehrman
Citation(s):Nano Lett. 12, 6005–6011 (2012)

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Abstract: Three-dimensional (3D) structures such as nanowires, nanotubes, and nanorods have the potential to increase surface area, reduce light reflection, and shorten charge carrier transport distances. The assembly of such structures thus holds great promise for enhancing photoelectrochemical solar cell efficiency. In this study, genetically modified Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV1cys) was used to form self-assembling 3D nanorod current collectors and low light-reflecting surfaces. Photoactive CuO was subsequently deposited by sputtering onto these patterned nanostructures, and these structures were examined for photocurrent activity. CuO thicknesses of 520 nm on TMV1cys patterned current collectors produced the highest photocurrent density of 3.15 mA/cm2 yet reported for a similar sized CuO system. Reflectivity measurements are in agreement with full-wave electromagnetic simulations, which can be used as a design tool for optimizing the CuO system. Thus the combined effects of reducing charge carrier transport distance, increasing surface area, and the suppression of light reflection make these virus-templated surfaces ideal for photoelectrochemical applications.