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Nanomaterials 2014, 4(1), 87-128; doi:10.3390/nano4010087

Numerical Modeling of Sub-Wavelength Anti-Reflective Structures for Solar Module Applications

*  and
School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 January 2014 / Revised: 21 January 2014 / Accepted: 22 January 2014 / Published: 29 January 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials in Energy Conversion and Storage)


This paper reviews the current progress in mathematical modeling of anti-reflective subwavelength structures. Methods covered include effective medium theory (EMT), finite-difference time-domain (FDTD), transfer matrix method (TMM), the Fourier modal method (FMM)/rigorous coupled-wave analysis (RCWA) and the finite element method (FEM). Time-based solutions to Maxwell’s equations, such as FDTD, have the benefits of calculating reflectance for multiple wavelengths of light per simulation, but are computationally intensive. Space-discretized methods such as FDTD and FEM output field strength results over the whole geometry and are capable of modeling arbitrary shapes. Frequency-based solutions such as RCWA/FMM and FEM model one wavelength per simulation and are thus able to handle dispersion for regular geometries. Analytical approaches such as TMM are appropriate for very simple thin films. Initial disadvantages such as neglect of dispersion (FDTD), inaccuracy in TM polarization (RCWA), inability to model aperiodic gratings (RCWA), and inaccuracy with metallic materials (FDTD) have been overcome by most modern software. All rigorous numerical methods have accurately predicted the broadband reflection of ideal, graded-index anti-reflective subwavelength structures; ideal structures are tapered nanostructures with periods smaller than the wavelengths of light of interest and lengths that are at least a large portion of the wavelengths considered.
Keywords: optical modeling; antireflective; sub-wavelength; FDTD; RCWA; effective medium theory optical modeling; antireflective; sub-wavelength; FDTD; RCWA; effective medium theory
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Han, K.; Chang, C.-H. Numerical Modeling of Sub-Wavelength Anti-Reflective Structures for Solar Module Applications. Nanomaterials 2014, 4, 87-128.

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