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Published March 19, 2018 | Published
Journal Article Open

Mesoscale trumps nanoscale: metallic mesoscale contact morphology for improved light trapping, optical absorption and grid conductance in silicon solar cells


We report on a computational study exploring the design of mesoscale metallic front contacts for solar cells. We investigated silver contact structures with circle, triangle and square cross-sections for various length scales and surface coverages. We found that for 'nanoscale' contacts with widths between 10 nm and 1000 nm, resonant coupling actually impairs light absorption in the semiconductor. Conversely, for 'mesoscale' contact widths > 1000 nm, the light interaction is determined by the geometric shadowing. We find that mesoscale silver contacts with triangular cross-section outperform other nanostructure morphologies in reducing shadow losses and yield contact transparency of >99% percent with sheet resistance <0.2 Ω/sq. Surprisingly, very densely spaced mesoscale silver triangular cross-section contacts can enhance the absorption of thin silicon/silver structures by up to 15% at a front contact coverage of 83%, due to light trapping by the front contact. Such structures can also maintain up to 100% absorption within the silicon, at a front contact coverage of 50%, relative to the same structure without metal.

Additional Information

© 2018 Optical Society of America under the terms of the OSA Open Access Publishing Agreement. Received 2 Feb 2018; revised 21 Feb 2018; accepted 22 Feb 2018; published 6 Mar 2018. This material is based upon work supported by the Engineering Research Center Program of the National Science Foundation and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the Department of Energy under NSF Cooperative Agreement No. EEC-1041895 and by the U.S. Department of Energy through the Bay Area Photovoltaic Consortium under Award Number DE-EE0004946. RS acknowledges support from the Global Climate & Energy project. Funding: National Science Foundation (NSF) (EEC-1041895); Department of Energy (DOE) (EEC-1041895, DE-EE0004946); Global Climate & Energy project.

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August 19, 2023
October 18, 2023