Tailoring the Optical Response of III-V Nanowire Arrays

Abstract: Semiconductor nanowires show a great deal of promise for applications in a widerange of important fields, including photovoltaics, biomedicine, and informationtechnology. Developing these exciting applications is strongly dependent onunderstanding the fundamental properties of nanowires, such as their opticalresonances and absorption spectra. In this thesis we explore optical absorption spectra of arrays of vertical III-V nanowires with a special emphasis on structures optimized to enhance absorption in the solar spectrum.First, we analyze experimentally determined absorption spectra of both indiumphosphide (InP) and gallium phosphide (GaP) nanowire arrays. The study provides an intuitive understanding of how the observed absorption resonances in the nanowires may be tuned as a function of their geometrical parameters and crystal structure. As a consequence, the spectral position of absorption resonances can be precisely controlled through the nanowire diameter. However, the results highlight how the blue-shift in the optical absorption resonances as the diameter of the nanowires decreases comes to a halt at low diameters. The stop point is related to the behavior of the refractive indices of the nanowires. The wavelength of the stop is different for nanowire polytypes of similar dimensions due to differences in their refractive indices.We then present a theoretical argument that it is important to consider symmetryproperties when tailoring the optical modes excited in the nanowires for enhanced absorption. We show that absorption spectra may be enhanced compared to vertical nanowires at normal incidence by tilting the nanowires with normal incidence light, or by using off-normal incidence with vertical nanowires. This is because additional optical modes inside the nanowires are excited when the symmetry is broken. Looking forward to omnidirectional applications, we consider branched nanowires as a way to enhance the absorption spectra at normal incidence by taking advantage of simultaneous excitation of the spectrally different optical modes in the branches and the stems.Third, we describe in theoretical terms how integrating distributed Bragg reflectors (DBRs) with the nanowires can improve absorption spectra compared to conventional nanowires. DBRs provide a way to employ light trapping mechanisms which increases the optical path length of the excited modes and thereby improves the absorption of the excited modes. At normal incidence, DBR-nanowires improve the absorption efficiency to 78%, compared to 72% for conventional nanowires. We show that the efficiency is increased to 85% for an off-normal incident angle of 50˚.Overall, our results show that studies of optical resonances in nanowires that take the light-matter interaction into account provide opportunities to develop novel optical and optoelectronic functionalities in nanoscience and nanotechnology.