Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

High-tech origami: Water droplets direct self-assembly process in thin-film materials

Date:
November 25, 2009
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Researchers have developed a technique for fabricating 3-D, single-crystalline silicon structures from thin films by coupling photolithography and a self-folding process driven by capillary interactions.

Spherical solar cells self-assembled from flower shaped flat Si leaflets with thicknesses of 2 μm: (A) Schematic illustration of steps for fabricating a spherical shaped Si solar cell; (B) Optical image of a complete device consisting of the folded spherical Si shell, inner glass bead, and printed silver electrodes; (C) Magnified view of the silver wire connected to the top contact of the spherical device; (D) Current density (J) - voltage (V) characteristics of a spherical solar cell under AM1.5 simulated sunlight irradiation, with and without a white diffuse reflector.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Ralph Nuzzo

You can think of it as origami -- very high-tech origami.

Related Articles


Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a technique for fabricating three-dimensional, single-crystalline silicon structures from thin films by coupling photolithography and a self-folding process driven by capillary interactions.

The films, only a few microns thick, offer mechanical bendability that is not possible with thicker pieces of the same material.

"This is a completely different approach to making three-dimensional structures," said Ralph G. Nuzzo, the G. L. Clark Professor of Chemistry at Illinois. "We are opening a new window into what can be done in self-assembly processes."

Nuzzo is corresponding author of a paper accepted for publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper is to be posted on the journal's Early Edition Web site the week of November 23.

As a demonstration of the new capillary-driven, self-assembly process, Nuzzo and colleagues constructed spherical and cylindrical shaped silicon solar cells and evaluated their performance.

The researchers also developed a predictive model that takes into account the type of thin film to be used, the film's mechanical properties and the desired structural shape.

"The model identifies the critical conditions for self-folding of different geometric shapes," said mechanical science and engineering professor K. Jimmy Hsia. "Using the model, we can improve the folding process, select the best material to achieve certain goals, and predict how the structure will behave for a given material, thickness and shape."

To fabricate their free-standing solar cells, the researchers began by using photolithography to define the desired geometric shape on a thin film of single-crystalline silicon, which was mounted on a thicker, insulated silicon wafer. Next, they removed the exposed silicon with etchant, undercut the remaining silicon foil with acid, and released the foil from the wafer. Then they placed a tiny drop of water at the center of the foil pattern.

As the water evaporated, capillary forces pulled the edges of the foil together, causing the foil to wrap around the water droplet.

To retain the desired shape after the water had fully evaporated, the researchers placed a tiny piece of glass, coated with an adhesive, at the center of the foil pattern. The glass "froze" the three-dimensional structure in place, once it had reached the desired folded state.

"The resulting photovoltaic structures, not yet optimized for electrical performance, offer a promising approach for efficiently harvesting solar energy with thin films," said Jennifer A. Lewis, the Thurnauer Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and director of the university's Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory.

Unlike conventional, flat solar cells, the curved, three-dimensional structures also serve as passive tracking optics by absorbing light from nearly all directions.

"We can look forward from this benchmark demonstration to photovoltaic structures made from thin films that behave as though they are optically dense, and much more efficient," Lewis said.

The new self-assembly process can be applied to a variety of thin-film materials, not just silicon, the researchers noted in their paper.

With Nuzzo, Hsia and Lewis, co-authors of the paper are graduate students Xiaoying Guo and Huan Li, and postdoctoral researchers Bok Yeop Ahn and Eric B. Douss.

Hsia is associate dean of the Graduate College and is affiliated with the university's Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory.

Lewis is affiliated with the department of chemical and biomolecular engineering and the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory.

Nuzzo is affiliated with the Institute for Genomic Biology, the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, the materials science and engineering department, and the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation funded the work.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "High-tech origami: Water droplets direct self-assembly process in thin-film materials." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091123152222.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2009, November 25). High-tech origami: Water droplets direct self-assembly process in thin-film materials. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091123152222.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "High-tech origami: Water droplets direct self-assembly process in thin-film materials." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091123152222.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gas Production Cut on Earthquake Fears

Gas Production Cut on Earthquake Fears

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) — The Dutch government has cut production at Europe&apos;s largest gas field in Groningen amid concerns over earthquakes which are damaging local churches. As Amy Pollock reports the decision - largely politically-motivated - could have big economic conseqeunces. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Star Wars-Inspired Prototype Creates Holographic Display

Star Wars-Inspired Prototype Creates Holographic Display

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) — A prototype holographic display named Leia - after the Star Wars princess who appeared in holographic form asking Obi-Wan Kenobu for help - is demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
IKEA and Samsung Launch Embedded Wireless Charging Range

IKEA and Samsung Launch Embedded Wireless Charging Range

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) — Samsung and IKEA hope their new embedded wireless charging products, launched at Barcelona&apos;s Mobile World Congress, will tempt consumers eager for plugless power. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Samsung Unveils $30,000 'Dream Doghouse'

Samsung Unveils $30,000 'Dream Doghouse'

Buzz60 (Mar. 5, 2015) — On display at the Crufts dog show in England, the &apos;dog kennel of the future&apos; comes with features like a doggie treadmill and Samsung tablet. Mike Janela (@mikejanela) has more. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins