One-dimensional zinc oxide nanomaterials synthesis and photovoltaic applications
Weintraub, Benjamin A.
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As humanly engineered materials systems approach the atomic scale, top-down manufacturing approaches breakdown and following nature's example, bottom-up or self-assembly methods have the potential to emerge as the dominant paradigm. Synthesis of one-dimensional nanomaterials takes advantage of such self-assembly manufacturing techniques, but until now most efforts have relied on high temperature vapor phase schemes which are limited in scalability and compatibility with organic materials. The solution-phase approach is an attractive low temperature alternative to overcome these shortcomings. To this end, this thesis is a study of the rationale solution-phase synthesis of ZnO nanowires and applications in photovoltaics. The following thesis goals have been achieved: rationale synthesis of a single ZnO nanowire on a polymer substrate without seeding, design of a wafer-scale technique to control ZnO nanowire array density using layer-by-layer polymers, determination of optimal nanowire field emitter density to maximize the field enhancement factor, design of bridged nanowires across metal electrodes to order to circumvent post-synthesis manipulation steps, electrical characterization of bridged nanowires, rationale solution-phase synthesis of long ZnO nanowires on optical fibers, fabrication of ZnO nanowire dye-sensitized solar cells on optical fibers, electrical and optical characterization of solar cell devices, comparison studies of 2-D versus 3-D nanowire dye-sensitized solar cell devices, and achievement of 6-fold solar cell power conversion efficiency enhancement using a 3-D approach. The thesis results have implications in nanomanufacturing scale-up and next generation photovoltaics.