Plasmonics is an exploding new field of science and technology that aims mold the flow of light at the nanoscale using metallic nanostructures. This newly found ability is rapidly impacting every facet of optics and photonics and is enabling a myriad of exciting new technologies. Recently, it has gained significant interest as it can boost the energy conversion efficiency of solar cells by directing and concentrating light in those regions of a cell where photogenerated carriers are effectively pulled apart to generate current. In doing so, it can address one of the main limitations of current solar cell designs: the large mismatch between the relevant electronic length-scale (minority carrier or exciton diffusion length) and photonic length-scale (absorption depth of light). I will discuss recent progress in the development of plasmon-enhanced solar cells and provide my personal assessment of the limitations and most exciting future opportunities for the field.

© 2010 Optical Society of America

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