OSA's Digital Library

Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 17, Iss. 22 — Oct. 26, 2009
  • pp: 19371–19381

Optical absorption enhancement in silicon nanowire arrays with a large lattice constant for photovoltaic applications

Chenxi Lin and Michelle L. Povinelli  »View Author Affiliations

Optics Express, Vol. 17, Issue 22, pp. 19371-19381 (2009)

View Full Text Article

Enhanced HTML    Acrobat PDF (1724 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



In this paper, we use the transfer matrix method to calculate the optical absorptance of vertically-aligned silicon nanowire (SiNW) arrays. For fixed filling ratio, significant optical absorption enhancement occurs when the lattice constant is increased from 100nm to 600nm. The enhancement arises from an increase in field concentration within the nanowire as well as excitation of guided resonance modes. We quantify the absorption enhancement in terms of ultimate efficiency. Results show that an optimized SiNW array with lattice constant of 600nm and wire diameter of 540nm has a 72.4% higher ultimate efficiency than a Si thin film of equal thickness. The enhancement effect can be maintained over a large range of incidence angles.

© 2009 OSA

OCIS Codes
(350.6050) Other areas of optics : Solar energy
(310.6628) Thin films : Subwavelength structures, nanostructures

ToC Category:
Solar Energy

Original Manuscript: August 17, 2009
Revised Manuscript: September 29, 2009
Manuscript Accepted: October 3, 2009
Published: October 12, 2009

Chenxi Lin and Michelle L. Povinelli, "Optical absorption enhancement in silicon nanowire arrays with a large lattice constant for photovoltaic applications," Opt. Express 17, 19371-19381 (2009)

Sort:  Author  |  Year  |  Journal  |  Reset  


  1. L. Tsakalakos, ““Nanostructures for photovoltaics,”,” Mater. Sci. Eng. 62(6), 175–189 (2008). [CrossRef]
  2. N. S. Lewis, “Toward cost-effective solar energy use,” Science 315(5813), 798–801 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  3. K. Q. Peng, Y. Xu, Y. Wu, Y. J. Yan, S. T. Lee, and J. Zhu, “Aligned single-crystalline Si nanowire arrays for photovoltaic applications,” Small 1(11), 1062–1067 (2005). [CrossRef]
  4. L. Tsakalakos, J. Balch, J. Fronheiser, M. Y. Shih, S. F. LeBoeuf, M. Pietrzykowski, P. J. Codella, B. A. Korevaar, O. Sulima, J. Rand, A. Davuluru, and U. Rapol, “Strong broadband optical absorption in silicon nanowire films,” J. Nanophotonics 1(1), 013552 (2007). [CrossRef]
  5. O. L. Muskens, J. G. Rivas, R. E. Algra, E. P. Bakkers, and A. Lagendijk, “Design of light scattering in nanowire materials for photovoltaic applications,” Nano Lett. 8(9), 2638–2642 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  6. T. Stelzner, M. Pietsch, G. Andra, F. Falk, E. Ose, and S. Christiansen, “Silicon nanowire-based solar cells,” Nanotechnology 19(29), 295203 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  7. V. Sivakov, G. Andrä, A. Gawlik, A. Berger, J. Plentz, F. Falk, and S. H. Christiansen, “Silicon nanowire-based solar cells on glass: synthesis, optical properties, and cell parameters,” Nano Lett. 9(4), 1549–1554 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  8. B. M. Kayes, H. A. Atwater, and N. S. Lewis, “Comparison of the device physics principles of planar and radial p-n junction nanorod solar cells,” J. Appl. Phys. 97(11), 114302 (2005). [CrossRef]
  9. B. Z. Tian, X. L. Zheng, T. J. Kempa, Y. Fang, N. F. Yu, G. H. Yu, J. L. Huang, and C. M. Lieber, “Coaxial silicon nanowires as solar cells and nanoelectronic power sources,” Nature 449(7164), 885–889 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  10. E. C. Garnett and P. D. Yang, “Silicon nanowire radial p-n junction solar cells,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 130(29), 9224–9225 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  11. L. Tsakalakos, J. Balch, J. Fronheiser, B. A. Korevaar, O. Sulima, and J. Rand, “Silicon nanowire solar cells,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 91(23), 233117 (2007). [CrossRef]
  12. L. Hu and G. Chen, “Analysis of optical absorption in silicon nanowire arrays for photovoltaic applications,” Nano Lett. 7(11), 3249–3252 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  13. L. J. Lauhon, M. S. Gudiksen, D. Wang, and C. M. Lieber, “Epitaxial core-shell and core-multishell nanowire heterostructures,” Nature 420(6911), 57–61 (2002). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  14. M. Law, J. Goldberger, and P. D. Yang, “Semiconductor nanowires and nanotubes,” Annu. Rev. Mater. Res. 34(1), 83–122 (2004). [CrossRef]
  15. C.-M. Hsu, S. T. Connor, M. X. Tang, and Y. Cui, “Wafer-scale silicon nanopillars and nanocones by Langmuir-Blodgett assembly and etching,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 93(13), 133109 (2008). [CrossRef]
  16. B. M. Kayes, M. A. Filler, M. C. Putnam, M. D. Kelzenberg, N. S. Lewis, and H. A. Atwater, “Growth of vertically aligned Si wire arrays over large areas (> 1 cm2) with Au and Cu catalysts,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 91(10), 103110 (2007). [CrossRef]
  17. J. Zhu, Z. F. Yu, G. F. Burkhard, C. M. Hsu, S. T. Connor, Y. Q. Xu, Q. Wang, M. McGehee, S. H. Fan, and Y. Cui, “Optical absorption enhancement in amorphous silicon nanowire and nanocone arrays,” Nano Lett. 9(1), 279–282 (2009). [CrossRef]
  18. A. Chutinan and S. John, “Light trapping and absorption optimization in certain thin-film photonic crystal architectures,” Phys. Rev. A 78(2), 023825 (2008). [CrossRef]
  19. J. R. Tumbleston, D.-H. Ko, E. T. Samulski, and R. Lopez, “Absorption and quasiguided mode analysis of organic solar cells with photonic crystal photoactive layers,” Opt. Express 17(9), 7670–7681 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  20. D. Duché, L. Escoubas, J.-J. Simon, P. Torchio, W. Vervisch, and F. Flory, “Slow Bloch modes for enhancing the absorption of light in thin films for photovoltaic cells,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 92(19), 193310–193313 (2008). [CrossRef]
  21. L. Cao, J. S. White, J.-S. Park, J. A. Schuller, B. M. Clemens, and M. L. Brongersma, “Engineering light absorption in semiconductor nanowire devices,” Nat. Mater. 8(8), 643–647 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  22. M. Agrawal and P. Peumans, “Light trapping in solar cells in the wave domain,” In preparation.
  23. S. H. Fan and J. D. Joannopoulos, “Analysis of guided resonances in photonic crystal slabs,” Phys. Rev. B Condens. Matter 65(23), 235112 (2002). [CrossRef]
  24. S. G. Tikhodeev, A. L. Yablonskii, E. A. Muljarov, N. A. Gippius, and T. Ishihara, “Quasiguided modes and optical properties of photonic crystal slabs,” Phys. Rev. B Condens. Matter 66(4), 045102 (2002). [CrossRef]
  25. T. Prasad, V. L. Colvin, and D. M. Mittleman, “Dependence of guided resonances on the structural parameters of terahertz photonic crystal slabs,” J. Appl. Phys. 25, 633–644 (2008).
  26. J. B. Pendry, “Photonic band structures,” J. Mod. Opt. 41(2), 209–229 (1994). [CrossRef]
  27. D. M. Whittaker and I. S. Culshaw, “Scattering-matrix treatment of patterned multilayer photonic structures,” Phys. Rev. B Condens. Matter 60(4), 2610–2618 (1999). [CrossRef]
  28. K. Yamamoto, M. Yoshimi, Y. Tawada, Y. Okamoto, A. Nakajima, and S. Igari, “Thin-film poly-Si solar cells on glass substrate fabricated at low temperature,” Appl. Phys., A Mater. Sci. Process. 69(2), 179–185 (1999). [CrossRef]
  29. D. F. Edwards, “Silicon (Si),” in Handbook of optical constants of solids, E.D.Palik, ed. (Academic, Orlando, Fla., 1985).
  30. ASTM, “Reference Solar Spectral Irradiance: Air Mass 1.5 Spectra,” http://rredc.nreal.gov/solar/spectra/am1.5 .
  31. M. Li, Z. Y. Li, K. M. Ho, J. R. Cao, and M. Miyawaki, “High-efficiency calculations for three-dimensional photonic crystal cavities,” Opt. Lett. 31(2), 262–264 (2006). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  32. M. Li, X. Hu, Z. Ye, K. M. Ho, J. Cao, and M. Miyawaki, “Higher-order incidence transfer matrix method used in three-dimensional photonic crystal coupled-resonator array simulation,” Opt. Lett. 31(23), 3498–3500 (2006). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  33. A. Taflove, and S. C. Hagness, Computational Electrodynamics: The Finite-Difference Time-Domain Method (Artech, Norwood, MA, 2000).
  34. A. Farjadpour, D. Roundy, A. Rodriguez, M. Ibanescu, P. Bermel, J. D. Joannopoulos, S. G. Johnson, and G. W. Burr, “Improving accuracy by subpixel smoothing in the finite-difference time domain,” Opt. Lett. 31(20), 2972–2974 (2006). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  35. W. Shockley and H. J. Queisser, “Detailed balance limit of efficiency of p-n junction solar cells,” J. Appl. Phys. 32(3), 510–519 (1961). [CrossRef]
  36. J. D. Joannopoulos, R. D. Meade, and J. N. Winn, Photonic crystals: molding the flow of light. (Princeton University Press, 2008), Chap. 8.
  37. H. R. Philipp, “Silicon Nitride (Si3N4),” in Handbook of optical constants of solids, E. D. Palik, ed., (Academic, Orlando, Fla., 1985).
  38. K. E. Plass, M. A. Filler, J. M. Spurgeon, B. M. Kayes, S. Maldonado, B. S. Brunschwig, H. A. Atwater, and N. S. Lewis, “Flexible Polymer-Embedded Si Wire Arrays,” Adv. Mater. 21(3), 325–328 (2009). [CrossRef]
  39. J. M. Spurgeon, K. E. Plass, B. M. Kayes, B. S. Brunschwig, H. A. Atwater, and N. S. Lewis, “Repeated epitaxial growth and transfer of arrays of patterned, vertically aligned, crystalline Si wires from a single Si(111) substrate,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 93(3), 032112–032113 (2008). [CrossRef]
  40. J. Li, H. Yu, S. M. Wong, G. Zhang, X. Sun, P. G.-Q. Lo, and D.-L. Kwong, “Si nanopillar array optimization on Si thin films for solar energy harvesting,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 95(3), 033102–033103 (2009). [CrossRef]
  41. M. Ghebrebrhan, P. Bermel, Y. Avniel, J. D. Joannopoulos, and S. G. Johnson, “Global optimization of silicon photovoltaic cell front coatings,” Opt. Express 17(9), 7505–7518 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  42. L. Zeng, Y. Yi, C. Hong, J. Liu, N. Feng, X. Duan, L. C. Kimerling, and B. A. Alamariu, “Efficiency enhancement in Si solar cells by textured photonic crystal back reflector,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 89(11), 111111 (2006). [CrossRef]
  43. P. Bermel, C. Luo, L. Zeng, L. C. Kimerling, and J. D. Joannopoulos, “Improving thin-film crystalline silicon solar cell efficiencies with photonic crystals,” Opt. Express 15(25), 16986–17000 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  44. D. Zhou and R. Biswas, “Photonic crystal enhanced light-trapping in thin film solar cells,” J. Appl. Phys. 103(9), 093102 (2008). [CrossRef]
  45. L. Zeng, P. Bermel, Y. Yi, B. A. Alamariu, K. A. Broderick, J. Liu, C. Hong, X. Duan, J. Joannopoulos, and L. C. Kimerling, “Demonstration of enhanced absorption in thin film Si solar cells with textured photonic crystal back reflector,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 93(22), 221105 (2008). [CrossRef]
  46. S. Pillai, K. R. Catchpole, T. Trupke, and M. A. Green, “Surface plasmon enhanced silicon solar cells,” J. Appl. Phys. 101(9), 093105 (2007). [CrossRef]
  47. D. M. Schaadt, B. Feng, and E. T. Yu, “Enhanced semiconductor optical absorption via surface plasmon excitation in metal nanoparticles,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 86(6), 063106 (2005). [CrossRef]
  48. K. R. Catchpole and A. Polman, “Design principles for particle plasmon enhanced solar cells,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 93(19), 191113 (2008). [CrossRef]
  49. O. L. Muskens, S. L. Diedenhofen, B. C. Kaas, R. E. Algra, E. P. Bakkers, J. Gomez. Rivas, and A. Lagendijk, “Large photonic strength of highly tunable resonant nanowire materials,” Nano Lett. 9(3), 930–934 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited