Light harvesting with multiwall carbon nanotube/silicon heterojunctions

Paola Castrucci*, Claudia Scilletta, Silvano Del Gobbo, Manuela Scarselli, Luca Camilli, Mirko Simeoni, Bernard Delley, Alessandra Continenza, Maurizio De Crescenzi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


We report on a significant photocurrent generation from a planar device obtained by coating a bare n doped silicon substrate with a random network of multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). This MWCNT/n-Si hybrid device exhibits an incident photon to current efficiency reaching up to 34% at 670 nm. We also show that MWCNTs covering a quartz substrate still exhibit photocurrent, though well below than that of the MWCNTs coating the silicon substrate. These results suggest that MWCNTs are able to generate photocurrent and that the silicon substrate plays a fundamental role in our planar device. The former effect is particularly interesting because MWCNTs are generally known to mimic the electronic properties of graphite, which does not present any photocurrent generation. On the basis of theoretical calculations revealing a weak metallic character for MWCNTs, we suggest that both metallic and semiconducting nanotubes are able to generate e-h pairs upon illumination. This can be ascribed to the presence of van Hove singularities in the density of states of each single wall carbon nanotube constituting the MWCNT and to the low density of electrons at the Fermi level. Finally, we suggest that though both MWCNTs and Si substrate are involved in the photocurrent generation process, MWCNT film mainly acts as a semitransparent electrode in our silicon-based device.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115701
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 18 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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