On the scattering directionality of a dielectric particle dimer of High Refractive Index

Abstract : Low-losses and directionality effects exhibited by High Refractive Index Dielectric particles make them attractive for applications where radiation direction control is relevant. For instance, isolated metallo-dielectric core-shell particles or aggregates (dimers) of High Refractive Index Dielectric particles have been proposed for building operational switching devices. Also, the possibility of using isolated High Refractive Index Dielectric particles for optimizing solar cells performance has been explored. Here, we present experimental evidence in the microwave range, that a High Refractive Index Dielectric dimer of spherical particles is more efficient for redirecting the incident radiation in the forward direction than the isolated case. In fact, we report two spectral regions in the dipolar spectral range where the incident intensity is mostly scattered in the forward direction. They correspond to the Zero-Backward condition (also observed for isolated particles) and to a new condition, denoted as " near Zero-Backward " condition, which comes from the interaction effects between the particles. The proposed configuration has implications in solar energy harvesting devices and in radiation guiding. Solar energy constitutes one of the most important renewable energy sources. Its clean and non-polluting energy can be converted into electricity by photovoltaic devices like solar cells, which have become a powerful alternative for solving the problem of climate change. However, the high manufacturing costs due to thicknesses of crystalline silicon wafer (typically 200–300 µm), which they are made of, make them not fully competitive with the actual fossil fuel energy resources. For decreasing expenses, thin-film solar cells, whose thickness is about 1–2 µm, have been proposed 1. Nevertheless, one of their main disadvantages is the low absorbance of the incident radiation. In order to increase their efficiency, the use of subwavelength metallic particles on top of the photosensitive surface has been suggested 2,3. Indeed, when incident light illuminates a small metallic particle, free electrons start to oscillate to the same frequency as the incident radiation. These coherent oscillations of the electron plasma depend on the material properties, the particle size and shape, and on the wavelength of the incoming radiation and result in particular surface charge distributions 4. At the resonant frequencies, enhancements of the electric field can be observed in the particle surroundings 5. This phenomenon has been exploited in many different applications like surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), or photovoltaic devices among others 1–3,6–11. Therefore, this kind of nanostructures can enhance the absorption of the incident radiation by means of two different mechanisms 1. On one hand, metallic particles can help to couple the incident radiation into the substrate leading to an increment of the absorbed radiation. This is mainly due to the angular spread acquired by the scattered light in the dielectric, so the optical path length of the radiation in the photosensitive volume increases 1. On the other hand, strong enhancements of the electric field in the particle surroundings stimulate the absorption of the incident radiation in the semiconductor wafer 1. However, in spite of the good response of metallic particles in infrared (IR) and visible (VIS) spectral regions 12 , due to the Joule's effect and consequently, to their inherent ohmic losses, the major part of the incident radiation is converted into heating. These photons do not generate electron-hole pairs and, in consequence, do not contribute to increase the electric current. This fact limits the utility of metallic particles in energy harvesting applications.
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Angela Barreda, Hassan Saleh, Amelie Litman, Francisco González, Jean-Michel Geffrin, et al.. On the scattering directionality of a dielectric particle dimer of High Refractive Index. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2018, 8 (1), ⟨10.1038/s41598-018-26359-8⟩. ⟨hal-01803030⟩

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