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Photonic and plasmonic crystal based enhancement of solar cells- overcoming the Lambertian classical 4n2 limit

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 June 2012

Rana Biswas
Affiliation:
Dept. of Physics and Astronomy and Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011 Microelectronics Research Center and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011
Chun Xu
Affiliation:
Dept. of Physics and Astronomy and Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011
Sambit Pattnaik
Affiliation:
Microelectronics Research Center and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011
Joydeep Bhattacharya
Affiliation:
Microelectronics Research Center and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011
Nayan Chakravarty
Affiliation:
Dept. of Physics and Astronomy and Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011
Vikram Dalal
Affiliation:
Dept. of Physics and Astronomy and Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011
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Abstract

Long wavelength photons in the red and near infrared region of the spectrum are poorly absorbed in thin film silicon cells, due to their long absorption lengths. Advanced light trapping methods are necessary to harvest these photons. The basic physical mechanisms underlying the enhanced light trapping in thin film solar cells using periodic back reflectors include strong diffraction coupled with light concentration. These will be contrasted with the scattering mechanisms involved in randomly textured back reflectors, which are commonly used for light trapping. A special class of conformal solar cells with plasmonic nano-pillar back reflectors will be described, that generates absorption beyond the classical 4n2 limit (the Lambertian limit) averaged over the entire wavelength range for nc-Si:H. The absorption beyond the classical limit exists for common 1 micron thick nc-Si:H cells, and is further enhanced for non-normal light. Predicted currents exceed 31 mA/cm2 for nc-Si:H. The nano-pillars are tapered into conical protrusions that enhance plasmonic effects. Such conformal nc-Si:H solar cells with the same device architecture were grown on periodic nano-hole, periodic nano-pillar substrates and compared with randomly textured substrates, formed by annealing Ag/ZnO or etched Ag/ZnO. The periodic back reflector solar cells with nano-pillars demonstrated higher quantum efficiency and higher photo-currents that were 1 mA/cm2higher than those for the randomly textured back reflectors. Losses within the experimental solar architectures are discussed.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2012

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Photonic and plasmonic crystal based enhancement of solar cells- overcoming the Lambertian classical 4n2 limit
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