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SPIE Professional July 2013

Sustainable photonics for next-gen scientists

One of the many future promises of sustainable photonics research is its attraction for younger students.

Harvard University graduate student Meng-Ju Sher, an SPIE member, noted that her co-authors of a paper that won a Green Photonics award at SPIE Photonics West 2013 included a high-school student and an undergraduate along with SPIE member Eric Mazur, a Harvard professor whose optical physics research group studies black silicon, femtosecond lasers, and nanophotonics.

“The most exciting thing for me is the opportunity to engage young researchers,” Sher said. “We are excited that young students are interested in energy materials.”

Sher’s coauthors were Lysander Christakis, who attends the Cambridge School of Weston (USA), and Kenneth Hammond, who was an undergrad at Harvard while working on the project.

Their open-access paper, “The photovoltaic potential of femtosecond-laser textured amorphous silicon,” explains how the research group used femtosecond laser texturing to reduce reflection and enhance light absorption, enabling high efficiency from thin absorbers.

Meng-Ju Sher (right) receives award from Stephen Eglash.

High-efficiency solar cells are needed to decrease the cost of solar energy, notes SPIE Fellow Stephen Eglash of Stanford University (USA), founder and chair of the Green Photonics symposium at Photonics West.

Solar cells that use thin absorber layers cost less and require fewer materials. But inefficiencies of conventional light-trapping techniques limit the ability to reduce the thickness of thin-film solar cells.

The award-winning paper is available in the SPIE Digital Library, along with other technical papers that won Green Photonics awards at SPIE Photonics West.

Have a question or comment about this article? Write to us at spieprofessional@spie.org.

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DOI: 10.1117/2.4201307.21

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