Prairie View, Texas
March 16, 2022
March 16, 2022
March 18, 2022
As the demand for renewable energy increases, developing a cost-effective method of manufacturing renewable energy systems, can aid in facilitating the growth of renewable energy consumption. It is the hope that driving down the cost of renewable energy systems will allow the technology to become more accessible around the world. In 2020, solar energy accounted for just 11% of all renewable energy consumption in the United States. Current methods of manufacturing solar cells utilize costly anti-reflective coatings, to combat silicon’s natural reflectivity. The bare surface of silicon reflects up to 35% of the light back into the atmosphere. In solar cells, the reflected light is wasted energy. By producing silicon nanowires (SiNWs) through Metal Assisted Chemical Etching, or the MACE process, the reflectivity can be reduced to near 0%. Our research highlights the process of analyzing silicon nanowire data to optimize the production of SiNWs through the MACE process. The MACE process produces SiNWs by chemically etching the bare surface of silicon in a solution of Hydrogen Peroxide (H₂O₂). The primary focus of the research involved analyzing the relationship between the variables of time and etchant concentration within the MACE process. Additionally, we have studied how such variables affect the refractive index and the reflectivity of the SiNW sample. This was achieved by collecting Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) images of samples at varying durations of etching time, as well as varying concentrations of H₂O₂. The SEM images were then processed through MATLAB, where our written code would analyze the image, resulting in the air to silicon ratio. It is expected that a higher air/Si ratio will lower the refractive index of the SiNW layer, resulting in a low reflectivity. We have measured the reflectivity of the MACE treated samples, with varying wavelengths of light. We were able to conclude that the air/silicon ratio was directly proportional to H₂O₂ concentration. It was also found that the reflectivity decreased as both H₂O₂ concentration and etching time increased.
REFRENCES  “U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - independent statistics and analysis,” The United States consumed a record amount of renewable energy in 2020 - Today in Energy - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). [Online]. Available: https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=48396.  D. D. Rooij, “Anti reflective coating: Usage for solar panels,” Manage risks and maximize ROI for your PV and energy storage projects, 11-Oct-2021. [Online]. Available: https://sinovoltaics.com/learning-center/solar-cells/anti-reflective-coating-for-solar-panels/.
Thomas, T. A., & Ben, B., & Albin, S., & Ajala, S. A., & Bickett, M. E., & Shahan, R. D., & Panigrahi, P. (2022, March), Effective Index of Silicon Nanowires on Silicon Substrates Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Gulf Southwest Annual Conference, Prairie View, Texas. https://strategy.asee.org/39176
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