Research ArticleAPPLIED SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING

Increasing bulk photovoltaic current by strain tuning

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Science Advances  01 Mar 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 3, eaau9199
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau9199

Abstract

Photovoltaic phenomena are widely exploited not only for primary energy generation but also in photocatalytic, photoelectrochemistry, or optoelectronic applications. In contrast to the interface-based photovoltaic effect of semiconductors, the anomalous or bulk photovoltaic effect in ferroelectrics is not bound by the Shockley-Queisser limit and, thus, can potentially reach high efficiencies. Here, we observe in the example of an Fe-doped LiNbO3 bulk single crystal the existence of a purely intrinsic “piezophotovoltaic” effect that leads to a linear increase in photovoltaic current density. The increase reaches 75% under a low uniaxial compressive stress of 10 MPa, corresponding to a strain of only 0.005%. The physical origin and symmetry properties of the effect are investigated, and its potential for strain-tuned efficiency increase in nonconventional photovoltaic materials is presented.

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