Today amorphous and microcrystalline silicon based solar cells use surface-textured substrates for enhancing the light absorption and buffer and graded layers in order to improve the overall performance of the cells. Tandem and triple-junction configurations are utilized to assure better use of the solar spectrum and, thus, achieve higher conversion efficiencies of the devices. Resulting structures of the solar cells are complex and computer modeling has become an essential tool for a detailed understanding and further optimization of their optical and electrical behavior.
The performance limits of tandem and triple-junction silicon based solar cells are studied by simulations using the optical simulator SunShine developed at Ljubljana University and the opto-electrical simulator ASA developed at Delft University of Technology. First, both simulators were calibrated with realistic optical and electrical parameters. Then, they were used to study the required scattering properties, absorption in non-active layers, antireflective coatings, the crucial role of the wavelength selective intermediate reflector, and a careful current matching in order to indicate the way for achieving a high photocurrent, more than 15 mA/cm2 for a tandem a-Si:H/ìc-Si:H and 11 mA/cm2 for a triple-junction a-Si:H/a-SiGe:H/ìc-Si:H solar cells. By optimizing electrical properties of the layers and interfaces, for example using a p-doped a-SiC layer with a larger band gap (EG > 2 eV) and introducing buffer layers at p/i interfaces, the extraction of the charge carriers, the open-circuit voltage and the fill factor of the solar cells are improved. The potential for achieving the conversion efficiency over 15% for the a-Si:H/ìc-Si:H and 17 % for the triple-junction a-Si:H/a-SiGe:H/ìc-Si:H solar cells is demonstrated.