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Si microwire arrays are three-dimensional semiconductor architectures which orthogonalize the directions of light absorption and carrier collection. This design, in principle, allows for the fabrication of efficient photovoltaics and fuel-generating photoelectrodes from relatively impure Si. Such wire arrays are grown by a vapor-liquid-solid-catalyzed process on a crystalline Si wafer lithographically patterned with an array of metal catalyst particles. Following growth, the wires can be embedded in plastic and peeled from the growth substrate yielding an unusual photovoltaic material: a bendable, wafer-thickness crystalline Si absorber.
In this colloquium I will describe: