Date of Award

Summer 8-2-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Engineering and Applied Science



Major Professor

Weilie Zhou

Second Advisor

Leszek Malkinski

Third Advisor

Kevin Stokes

Fourth Advisor

Paul Schilling

Fifth Advisor

Ashok Puri


The emergence of semiconducting nanowires as the new building blocks for photovoltaic (PV) devices has drawn considerable attention because of the great potential of achieving high efficiency and low cost. In special, nanowires with a coaxial structure, namely, core-shell structures have demonstrated significant advantages over other device configurations in terms of radial charge collection and cost reduction. In this dissertation, several core-shell nanowire structures, including ZnO/ZnSe, ZnO/ZnS, and CdSe/ZnTe, have been synthesized and the photovoltaic devices processed from a ZnO/ZnS core-shell nanowire array and a single CdSe/ZnTe core-shell nanowire have been demonstrated.

By combining the chemical vapor deposition and pulsed laser deposition (PLD) techniques, type-II heterojunction ZnO/ZnSe and ZnO/ZnS core-shell nanowire array were synthesized on indium-tin-oxide substrates. Their structures and optical properties have been investigated in detail, which revealed that, despite highly mismatched interfaces between the core and shell, both systems exhibited an epitaxial growth relationship. The quenching in photoluminescence but enhancement in photocurrent with faster response upon coating the core with the shell provides the evidence that the charge separation and collection in the type II core-shell nanowire is greatly improved. This demonstration brings much greater flexibility in designing next generation PV devices in terms of material selection and device operation mechanisms for achieving their maximum energy conversion efficiencies at a low cost and in an environmentally friendly manner.

In order to achieve a high quality interface in the core-shell nanowire, CdSe and ZnTe, which have close lattice parameters and thermal expansion coefficients, were chosen to fabricate nanowire solar cells. ZnTe and CdSe nanowires were first synthesized by thermal evaporation and the shells were subsequently deposited by PLD. ZnTe/CdSe nanowires represented an inhomogeneous coating while the CdSe/ZnTe core-shell exhibited a conformal coating with obvious ZnTe eptilayer. The final PV device based on an individual CdSe/ZnTe nanowire demonstrated an efficiency of ~1.7%. In addition, a controllable synthesis of CdSe nanowire array on muscovite mica substrate was presented, providing the possibility to harvest hybrid energies in an all-inorganic nanowire array.


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