Multi-scale and Complex Metallic Structure Networks for Novel Solar Energy Harvesting-Conversion Applications

  • Yi Tian

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The global consumption of fossil fuels continues to increase due to the rapid growth of energy demand, as a consequence of expanding population and human activities. Fast climate change is another inescapable issue caused by humans that need to be addressed. The development of solar energy conversion technologies is widely considered as one of the most promising solutions to sustainably maintain a modern lifestyle of the society and create a carbon-neutral social development operation mode. The solar energy is carried and delivered in the form of electromagnetic fields. Therefore, the efficiency of photon collection is the primary factor to create any solar energy conversion systems. Through the inspiration from nature, the functionalized disorder, with a specific design and engineering, can introduce unusual light-matter interaction behaviors, and thus offer a potential capability to achieve perfect light harvesting. In my thesis, we develop complex Epsilon-Near-Zero (ENZ) metamaterials that can be used either as light capturing networks or the photoactive media by turning the energy damping ratio between radiative and non-radiative channels. We successfully integrate it into thin-film photovoltaic modules with showing an excellent performance enhancement led by broadband light localization effect. Thanks to universal of such complex ENZ metamaterials, with combining a thin layer of dielectric, we further develop efficient hot-carriers driven plasmonic photo-catalysts for artificial green chemical fuel synthesis. The detailed theoretic analysis is presented in this work.
Date of AwardMay 2019
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorAndrea Fratalocchi (Supervisor)


  • Light harvesting
  • Broadband
  • Plasmonics
  • Hot Carriers
  • Hydrogen production
  • Solar energy

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