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Nanomaterials 2017, 7(1), 17; doi:10.3390/nano7010017

Nano-Photonic Structures for Light Trapping in Ultra-Thin Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells

1
Ames Laboratory, Microelectronics Research Center, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA
2
Silicon Solar Cell Division, CSIR-National Physical Laboratory, Dr. K.S. Krishnan Road, New Delhi-110012, India
3
Ames Laboratory, Microelectronics Research Center, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA
4
Ames Laboratory, Microelectronics Research Center, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Guanying Chen, Zhijun Ning and Hans Agren
Received: 2 August 2016 / Revised: 16 December 2016 / Accepted: 30 December 2016 / Published: 13 January 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanostructured Solar Cells)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [3966 KB, uploaded 13 January 2017]   |  

Abstract

Thick wafer-silicon is the dominant solar cell technology. It is of great interest to develop ultra-thin solar cells that can reduce materials usage, but still achieve acceptable performance and high solar absorption. Accordingly, we developed a highly absorbing ultra-thin crystalline Si based solar cell architecture using periodically patterned front and rear dielectric nanocone arrays which provide enhanced light trapping. The rear nanocones are embedded in a silver back reflector. In contrast to previous approaches, we utilize dielectric photonic crystals with a completely flat silicon absorber layer, providing expected high electronic quality and low carrier recombination. This architecture creates a dense mesh of wave-guided modes at near-infrared wavelengths in the absorber layer, generating enhanced absorption. For thin silicon (<2 μm) and 750 nm pitch arrays, scattering matrix simulations predict enhancements exceeding 90%. Absorption approaches the Lambertian limit at small thicknesses (<10 μm) and is slightly lower (by ~5%) at wafer-scale thicknesses. Parasitic losses are ~25% for ultra-thin (2 μm) silicon and just 1%–2% for thicker (>100 μm) cells. There is potential for 20 μm thick cells to provide 30 mA/cm2 photo-current and >20% efficiency. This architecture has great promise for ultra-thin silicon solar panels with reduced material utilization and enhanced light-trapping. View Full-Text
Keywords: nano-photonics; solar cell; light-trapping; scattering nano-photonics; solar cell; light-trapping; scattering
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Pathi, P.; Peer, A.; Biswas, R. Nano-Photonic Structures for Light Trapping in Ultra-Thin Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells. Nanomaterials 2017, 7, 17.

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