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Highly Efficient GaAs solar cells by limiting light emission angle

Kosten, Emily D. and Atwater, Jackson H. and Parsons, James and Polman, A. and Atwater, H. A. (2013) Highly Efficient GaAs solar cells by limiting light emission angle. Light: Science & Applications, 2 (1). Art. No. e45. ISSN 2047-7538. doi:10.1038/lsa.2013.1.

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In a conventional flat plate solar cell under direct sunlight, light is received from the solar disk, but is re-emitted isotropically. This isotropic emission corresponds to a significant entropy increase in the solar cell, with a corresponding drop in efficiency. Here, using a detailed balance model, we show that limiting the emission angle of a high-quality GaAs solar cell is a feasible route to achieving power conversion efficiencies above 38% with a single junction. The highest efficiencies are predicted for a thin, light trapping cell with an ideal back reflector, though the scheme is robust to a non-ideal back reflector. Comparison with a conventional planar cell geometry illustrates that limiting emission angle in a light trapping geometry not only allows for much thinner cells, but also for significantly higher overall efficiencies with an excellent rear reflector. Finally, we present ray-tracing and detailed balance analysis of two angular coupler designs, show that significant efficiency improvements are possible with these couplers, and demonstrate initial fabrication of one coupler design.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription
Polman, A.0000-0002-0685-3886
Atwater, H. A.0000-0001-9435-0201
Additional Information:© 2013 Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit Received 25 April 2012; revised 17 September 2012; accepted 24 September 2012. Thanks to D Callahan,M Sheldon and J van de Groep for insightful discussions and advice on the manuscript. The authors also found advice from O Miller on handling non-radiative recombination, R Briggs on mode structure calculations, J Zipkin on numerical methods and C Eisler on internal fluorescence yield derivations extremely helpful. The authors are grateful for technical assistance from GVollenbroek. The Caltech researchers are supported by the ‘Light-Material Interactions in Energy Conversion’ Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under grant DE-SC0001293 (EK and HA). EK also acknowledges the support of the Resnick Sustainability Institute. Researchers of the Center for Nanophotonics at AMOLF are supported by the research program of FOM which is financially supported by NWO and by the European Research Council.
Group:Resnick Sustainability Institute
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-SC0001293
European Research Council (ERC)UNSPECIFIED
Resnick Sustainability InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:detailed balance; GaAs solar cell; light trapping; photovoltaics; two photon lithography
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130930-121333431
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Official Citation:Light: Science & Applications (2013) 2, e45; doi:10.1038/lsa.2013.1; published online 4 January 2013
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:41557
Deposited By: Joy Painter
Deposited On:30 Sep 2013 19:30
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 04:31

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