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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 18, Iss. 6 — Mar. 15, 2010
  • pp: 5691–5706

Optimal light trapping in ultra-thin photonic crystal crystalline silicon solar cells

Shrestha Basu Mallick, Mukul Agrawal, and Peter Peumans  »View Author Affiliations

Optics Express, Vol. 18, Issue 6, pp. 5691-5706 (2010)

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Crystalline silicon is an attractive photovoltaic material because of its natural abundance, accumulated materials and process knowledge, and its appropriate band gap. To reduce cost, thin films of crystalline silicon can be used. This reduces the amount of material needed and allows material with shorter carrier diffusion lengths to be used. However, the indirect band gap of silicon requires that a light trapping approach be used to maximize optical absorption. Here, a photonic crystal (PC) based approach is used to maximize solar light harvesting in a 400 nm-thick silicon layer by tuning the coupling strength of incident radiation to quasiguided modes over a broad spectral range. The structure consists of a double layer PC with the upper layer having holes which have a smaller radius compared to the holes in the lower layer. We show that the spectrally averaged fraction of photons absorbed is increased 8-fold compared to a planar cell with equivalent volume of active material. This results in an enhancement of maximum achievable photocurrent density from 7.1 mA/cm2 for an unstructured film to 21.8 mA/cm2 for a film structured as the double layer photonic crystal. This photocurrent density value approaches the limit of 26.5 mA/cm2, obtained using the Yablonovitch light trapping limit for the same volume of active material.

© 2010 OSA

OCIS Codes
(350.6050) Other areas of optics : Solar energy
(350.4238) Other areas of optics : Nanophotonics and photonic crystals

ToC Category:
Solar Energy

Original Manuscript: December 3, 2009
Revised Manuscript: January 16, 2010
Manuscript Accepted: February 22, 2010
Published: March 5, 2010

Virtual Issues
Focus Issue: Solar Concentrators (2010) Optics Express

Shrestha Basu Mallick, Mukul Agrawal, and Peter Peumans, "Optimal light trapping in ultra-thin photonic crystal crystalline silicon solar cells," Opt. Express 18, 5691-5706 (2010)

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