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Published February 2012 | public
Journal Article

Plasmonic light trapping in thin-film Si solar cells


Plasmonic nanostructures have been recently investigated as a possible way to improve absorption of light in solar cells. The strong interaction of small metal nanostructures with light allows control over the propagation of light at the nanoscale and thus the design of ultrathin solar cells in which light is trapped in the active layer and efficiently absorbed. In this paper we review some of our recent work in the field of plasmonics for improved solar cells. We have investigated two possible ways of integrating metal nanoparticles in a solar cell. First, a layer of Ag nanoparticles that improves the standard antireflection coating used for crystalline and amorphous silicon solar cells has been designed and fabricated. Second, regular and random arrays of metal nanostructures have been designed to couple light in waveguide modes of thin semiconductor layers. Using a large-scale, relative inexpensive nano-imprint technique, we have designed a back-contact light trapping surface for a-Si:H solar cells which show enhanced efficiency over standard randomly textured cells.

Additional Information

© 2012 IOP Publishing Ltd. Received 7 July 2011, accepted for publication 7 September 2011. Published 12 January 2012. The authors would like to acknowledge Frank Lenzmann and Lachlan Black from the Energy Center of the Netherlands (ECN) for providing c-Si solar cells, Karine van der Werf for a-Si solar cell depositions and MiPlaza for electron-beam fabrication of the SCIL master pattern. This work is part of the research program of the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) which is financially supported by the Netherlands Organization for Fundamental Research (NWO). It is also funded by the European Research Council. This work is also part of the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP). The Caltech portion of this work was supported by the Department of Energy under contract nos. DE-FG02-07ER46405 (modeling) and SETP GO-18006 (cell fabrication).

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