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Harvesting Betavoltaic and Photovoltaic Energy with Three Dimensional Porous Silicon Diodes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 2011

Wei Sun
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14627, USA
Nazir P. Kherani
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G4, Canada
Karl D. Hirschman
Microelectronic Engineering Department, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York 14623, USA
Larry L. Gadeken
BetaBatt, Inc., 12819 Westleigh Drive, Houston, Texas 77077, USA
Philippe M. Fauchet
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14627, USA Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14627, USA
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Conventional two-dimensional p-n diodes can be used for betavoltaic and photovoltaic energy conversion, but the device efficiency is limited by the planar geometry. We propose and demonstrate a novel three-dimensional diode geometry based on porous silicon. The 3D pore array provides two very important features: (1) the storage of the radioisotope energy source and (2) its extreme proximity to the p-n junction on each pore wall. The particle energy losses are thereby minimized prior to entering the conversion layer. In betavoltaics, our 3D betavoltaic device efficiency is 10 times that of a similar planar device. In photovoltaics, photons play the role of beta particles and photon trapping inside the pores enhances the conversion efficiency. Further fabrication and geometry optimization can result in practical, high performance devices.

Research Article
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2005

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