Nanophotonics & Energy Lab

The Nanophotonics and Energy lab headed by Prof. Manuel J. Mendes is part of the MEON group of CENIMAT-UNINOVA and is dedicated to advancing knowledge and technology in the frontline of Photovoltaics (PV)
Our team has strong interest in modelling, characterization and fabrication of nanostructured materials and devices, in order to demonstrate novel PV concepts, in particular being world pioneer in photonics and quantum structured solar cells, as well as in thin-film PV integrated on flexible substrates.

Location: Lab 2.1.18 in CEMOP building

At the Nanophotonics & Energy team one of our main expertise is in Light Management for PV, namely:

  • PV technologies under development: Thin-film solar cells based in Silicon (see video) and Perovskite (see video) materials 
  • Strategies to boost their performance: Wave-optical (Photonic) coatings and front contacts, Quantum-structured semiconductors via the multi-band PV approach, Water-repellent (superhydrophobic) surface, Plasmonic back-reflectors.
  • Target applications: Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), Flexible consumer electronics (IoT), Solar Fuels (artificial photosynthesis via PV-powered electrolysis) 
Example of a micro-structured sample optically analyzed in the lab. The left photo shows a 2-inch c-Si wafer coated with a self-assembled array of colloidal particles, which is used as patterning mask to engineer photonic structures in solar cells. The right SEM image is a top-view of the colloidal monolayer, whose long-range ordering is shown by the processed Fast-Fourier Transform (FFT) inset image. The high periodicity of the deposited array makes it act like a diffraction grating, resulting in the strongly bright rainbow of colours visualized in the photo. Colours originating from micro-structuring are also found in several natural constructions, such as in butterfly wings, peacock feathers, among a myriad of other examples.

The group counts with outstanding facilities, installed in CENIMAT-CEMOP, for pursuing the R&D activities, namely:

  • Fabrication equipment - 3 PECVDs, 2 Gloveboxes, Photolithography, Nano-imprint lithography, ALD, 3 Plasma Dry-etchers, 2 Langmuir-Blodgett, 5 Sputtering systems, 5 Metal Evaporators, Rapid Thermal Annealing, 3 3D-printers, several ovens, spin-coaters, etc.

  • Characterization tools - 4 Sun Simulators, 2 Quantum efficiency systems, 2 SEM-EDS (with FIB), AFM, Confocal Microscope, DRX, 2 Spectrophotometers, XPS, FTIR, Micro-Raman, PL, Hall effect, 4-point-probe systems, Optical microscopes, etc.

  • Modelling - Software licences of Lumerical Solutions and Silvaco, 5 dedicated computers with advanced resources for simulation.