To date, the cost-effective utilization of solar energy by photovoltaics for large-scale deployment remains challenging. Further cost minimization and efficiency maximization, through reduction of material consumption, simplification of device fabrication as well as optimization of device structure and geometry, are required. The usage of 1D nanomaterials is attractive due to the outstanding light coupling effect, the ease of fabrication, and integration with one-dimensional (1-D) semiconductor materials. The light absorption efficiency can be enhanced significantly, and the corresponding light-to-electricity conversion efficiency can be as high as their bulk counterparts. Also, the amount of active materials used can be reduced. This review summarizes the recent development of 1-D nanomaterials for photovoltaic applications, including the anti-reflection, the light absorption, the minority diffusion, and the semiconductor junction properties. With solid progress and prospect shown in the past 10 years, 1-D semiconductor nanomaterials are attractive and promising for the realization of high-efficiency and low-cost solar cells.
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