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Solar Cells, Artificial Tactile Skin, Fingerprinting

Composite nanostructures fabricated in the form of micro or nanopillar arrays with re-usable substrate for solar cells, tactile sensing and other applications.
Solar cell/photovoltaic systems are a promising technology for renewable and alternative energy sources. The use of solar cells has traditionally been dominated by single crystal silicon (SCS) and the costs of the starting substrates are almost 50% of the total manufacturing cost. Furthermore, the intense competition for SCS between the microelectronics industry and the fledgling solar cell industry has lead to worldwide SCS supply shortage, providing an opportunity for thin-film based solar cell/photovoltaic modules to enter the energy market. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have developed a method for the novel use of nanostructures (such as nanowires/nanopillars/nanorods, etc.) embedded polymeric photovoltaic junctions with high efficiency and lower cost. The technique uses substrates such as plastic, glass or textile but uses high quality single crystal materials for active photovoltaic devices. The original semiconductor substrate is never consumed during the fabrication process.
Besides photovoltaics, additional applications include use of the resulting micro or nanopillar device for highly sensitive tactile sensing applications, including pressure or heat sensing in robotics or medical and quality of life applications for patients who have a diminished sense of feeling or touch.


  • Photovoltaic alternative energy source
  • Fingerprinting, security applications
  • Robotics
  • Heat or pressure sensing
  • Artificial skin



This technology may drastically reduce the cost of solar cell manufacturing, increase the efficiency and solve the issue of current material (wafer) shortage for high efficiency/performance solar cells. For medical applications, this technology may improve quality of life. In security applications, it may be useful for fingerprinting, identification and verification settings.


  • Islam, M. Saif
  • Jayaraman, Logeeswaran V.
  • Katzenmeyer, Aaron
  • Ombaba, Matthew
Tech ID: 11199 / UC Case 2008-584-0