Optical Antenna Photovoltaics & Making Metallic Nano-rods
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Solar power is a clean, renewable source of energy. There is a growing demand for cheap, high efficiency photovoltaic cells. Of the many emerging solar harvesting technologies, a concept that has not been widely explored is that of optical antennas. In 1972 Bailey et al. explored scaling down of antenna technology to match the solar spectrum. A recent review was given by Lukas Novotny et al., in which they outline the major hurdles as being the lack of reliable nano-fabrication and an inability to rectify into the Tera-hertz frequencies band. Presently we aim to fabricate photovoltaic cells that incorporate an array of vertically aligned metallic nano-rods (MNR). Porous aluminum oxide (PAO) is used as a nano-structured template for growth of the MNR. PAO exhibit vertically aligned pores (D = 20 - 200nm) in a densely packed hexagonal arrangement. MNR fabrication is achieved through templated electrochemical deposition, and investigated with SEM and VIS-IR spectroscopy. MNR samples have been specifically designed to be incorporated as a photoactive material for a novel photovoltaic cell. Through fine control of their length, the MNR excitation energy can be tuned to the visible spectrum. Excitation of the MNR leads to energy transfer with localized acceptor molecules, creating a rectification of the field. The fabrication of MNR helps progress the development of the proposed antenna photovoltaic device.  R. L. Bailey, “A Proposed New Concept for a Solar-Energy Converter," Journal of Engineering for Power, pp. 73-77, Apr. 1972.  P. Bharadwaj, B. Deutsch, and L. Novotny, “Optical Antennas," Advances in Optics and Photonics, vol. 1, pp. 438-483, May 2009.