Direct growth of black Ge on low-temperature substrates, including plastics and rubber is reported. The material is based on highly dense, crystalline/amorphous core/shell Ge nanoneedle arrays with ultrasharp tips (.about.4 nm) enabled by the Ni catalyzed vapor-solid-solid growth process. Ge nanoneedle arrays exhibit remarkable optical properties. Specifically, minimal optical reflectance (<1%) is observed, even for high angles of incidence (.about.75.degree.) and for relatively short nanoneedle lengths (.about.1 .mu.m). Furthermore, the material exhibits high optical absorption efficiency with an effective band gap of .about.1 eV. The reported black Ge can have important practical implications for efficient photovoltaic and photodetector applications on nonconventional substrates.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENTAL SUPPORT
The invention described and claimed herein was made in part utilizing funds supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No, DE-AC02-05CH11231 between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Regents of the University of California for the management and operation of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The government has certain rights in this invention.