In situ electron microscopy of strain-induced effects on electrical and photovoltaic properties of GaAs nanowires - site specific and quantitative studies
Licentiate thesis, 2022

Semiconductor nanowires have different physical properties than their bulk counterparts due to their small physical dimensions and high surface-to-volume ratio. The nanowire geometry entails enhanced optical absorption, widened possibilities to grow material heterostructures and ability to withstand high levels of strain. The strain may alter the physical properties further and can be used to tune them. Because of their unique properties, solar cells based on III-V compound nanowires hold promise of becoming both more efficient and less expensive than conventional solar cells. However, nanowire solar cell efficiencies are still far below their theoretical maximum and further optimization is needed. This demands versatile characterization techniques where the microstructure of single nanowires can be related to their properties, and strain-induced effects may be investigated. In this thesis, a nanoprobing in situ electron microscopy technique has been developed to study the electrical and photovoltaic properties of single GaAs nanowires. Furthermore, the quantitative effects of uniaxial strain on these properties were investigated. The results show that the nanowires function as solar cells, with a highest measured single nanowire efficiency of 10.8% during white light emitting diode illumination. Optimization of the electrical contact was found to be crucial for the photovoltaic performance of the wires. Furthermore, tensile strain was shown to increase the photocurrent in the near-infrared spectrum due to a reduction in bandgap energy. These findings provide insights for further optimization of nanowire solar cells.

Elastic strain engineering

Solar cells

Semiconductor nanowires

In situ electron microscopy

Opponent: Prof. Saroj Prasad Dash, Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.


Jonatan Holmér

Chalmers, Physics, Nano and Biophysics

In Situ transmissionselektronmikroskopi studier av inverkan av mekanisk töjning hos halvledande nanotrådar

Swedish Research Council (VR) (2016-04618), 2017-01-01 -- 2020-12-31.

Enabling Science and Technology through European Electron Microscopy (ESTEEM3)

European Commission (EC) (EC/H2020/823717), 2019-01-01 -- 2022-12-31.

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (SO 2010-2017, EI 2018-)


Basic sciences

Subject Categories

Nano Technology

Condensed Matter Physics


Chalmers Materials Analysis Laboratory




Opponent: Prof. Saroj Prasad Dash, Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.

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