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Published June 21, 2010 | Published
Journal Article Open

Light trapping in ultrathin plasmonic solar cells


We report on the design, fabrication, and measurement of ultrathin film a-Si:H solar cells with nanostructured plasmonic back contacts, which demonstrate enhanced short circuit current densities compared to cells having flat or randomly textured back contacts. The primary photocurrent enhancement occurs in the spectral range from 550 nm to 800 nm. We use angle-resolved photocurrent spectroscopy to confirm that the enhanced absorption is due to coupling to guided modes supported by the cell. Full-field electromagnetic simulation of the absorption in the active a-Si:H layer agrees well with the experimental results. Furthermore, the nanopatterns were fabricated via an inexpensive, scalable, and precise nanopatterning method. These results should guide design of optimized, non-random nanostructured back reflectors for thin film solar cells.

Additional Information

© 2010 Optical Society of America. Received 12 May 2010; revised 7 Jun 2010; accepted 8 Jun 2010; published 24 Jun 2010. C. H. M. van der Werf is acknowledged for solar cell depositions, L. A. Sweatlock for insights in FDTD simulations, and R. de Waele and I. M. Pryce for discussions. The Caltech portion of this work was supported by the Department of Energy under contract number DEFG02- 07ER46405 (modeling) and SETP GO-18006 (cell fabrication). Work at AMOLF is part of the research program of FOM which is financially supported by NWO. The work at Utrecht University was fully supported internally. This work is part of the Smart-Mix program Memphis and the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP).

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