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Title: Nanoimprinted Diffraction Gratings for Light Trapping in Crystal-Silicon Film Photovoltaics

Abstract

Crystal-silicon (c-Si) film photovoltaics hold the promise of combining the advantages of state-of-the-art wafer-silicon technology with the scalability and the inherently much lower cost of thin-film solar technologies. In the thickness range of 2-20m very effective light trapping is essential to absorb sufficient red and near-infrared (NIR) light and reach targeted efficiencies of 16% 18%, as defined by the U.S. National Solar Technology Roadmap. One proposed method is diffractive light trapping, which, at least in certain wavelength ranges, can theoretically outperform light trapping through random scattering at a rough surface or interface. The goals of this project were (1) to develop a nanoimprinting process for a high-refractive-index dielectric material, (2) to fabricate diffraction gratings as back-reflectors using this material, and (3) to demonstrate for a 2c-Si film an improvement in AM1.5 photon absorption of at least 80% relative to single-pass absorption. We achieved goals (1) and (2). We developed a soft-imprint method for sol-based titanium dioxide precursor films (index range 2.3-2.4) and integrated imprinted films in thin-film silicon devices. We did not fully reach goal (3): depending on the model used for interpretation of the optical experimental data, AM1.5 photon absorption was improved by only 53% (coherent electromagnetic model) tomore » 66% (non-coherent ray-tracing model). When compared to a metallized flat reference film (double-pass absorption), the improvement due to the grating is only 6%, if the (more conservative) electromagnetic model is used. Other important achievements from this project were: -We perfected an imprinting method for another ceramic material, aluminum oxide phosphate, which is index-matched with glass. -We tested diffractive light trapping at different incidence angles and found positive evidence for light trapping for angles up to 50°, although the light-trapping efficiency decreased with increasing incidence angle. -The extent of the trapped wavelength range scales with the refractive index of the dielectric material. The full benefit of a high refractive index, however, is only achieved if the dielectric layer underneath the grating layer (the residual layer) is sufficiently thick (several 100 nm). For a very thin residual layer, the light wave is predominantly localized in the underlying material during diffraction, and this material's refractive index then determines the trapping range. The (welcomed) consequence is that if this material is the silicon absorber layer, e.g. in a thin-film superstrate configuration, a very large trapping range can be achieved even if a low-index dielectric is used. We tested this directly through light-trapping experiments in glass plates using two different imprinted dielectric materials, titanium dioxide (index range 2.3-2.4) and aluminum oxide phosphate (index 1.5), with thick and thin residual layers. -We tested both copper and aluminum as low-cost reflector alternatives to silver on the grating back sides. In the relevant wavelength range above 650 nm, copper not only has the same high reflectance as silver, but the diffraction efficiency is also on par with silver. -A total of five scientific publications resulting from this work have either been published or are in preparation for submission (see Detailed Technical Report, below). Two conference presentations were given. In conclusion, we successfully developed nanoimprinting techniques for two ceramic precursor materials and tested diffractive light trapping in c-Si and nc-Si:H thin-film devices. The measured amount of light trapping did not fully reach our target value. The lessons learned from this project, however, both concerning experimental techniques and theoretical/modeling methods, have been extensive. Light trapping remains a central issue in thin c-Si technology, and we recommend to the US Department of Energy to increase research in this important area.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Washington Technology Center
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1001232
Report Number(s):
DOE/EE0000586-1
DOE Contract Number:  
EE0000586
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
14 SOLAR ENERGY; 36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; Nanoimprinting techniques, Diffraction gratings, Light trapping, Crystal-silicon, thin-film, Photovoltaics

Citation Formats

Weiss, Dirk. Nanoimprinted Diffraction Gratings for Light Trapping in Crystal-Silicon Film Photovoltaics. United States: N. p., 2010. Web.
Weiss, Dirk. Nanoimprinted Diffraction Gratings for Light Trapping in Crystal-Silicon Film Photovoltaics. United States.
Weiss, Dirk. Mon . "Nanoimprinted Diffraction Gratings for Light Trapping in Crystal-Silicon Film Photovoltaics". United States.
@article{osti_1001232,
title = {Nanoimprinted Diffraction Gratings for Light Trapping in Crystal-Silicon Film Photovoltaics},
author = {Weiss, Dirk},
abstractNote = {Crystal-silicon (c-Si) film photovoltaics hold the promise of combining the advantages of state-of-the-art wafer-silicon technology with the scalability and the inherently much lower cost of thin-film solar technologies. In the thickness range of 2-20m very effective light trapping is essential to absorb sufficient red and near-infrared (NIR) light and reach targeted efficiencies of 16% 18%, as defined by the U.S. National Solar Technology Roadmap. One proposed method is diffractive light trapping, which, at least in certain wavelength ranges, can theoretically outperform light trapping through random scattering at a rough surface or interface. The goals of this project were (1) to develop a nanoimprinting process for a high-refractive-index dielectric material, (2) to fabricate diffraction gratings as back-reflectors using this material, and (3) to demonstrate for a 2c-Si film an improvement in AM1.5 photon absorption of at least 80% relative to single-pass absorption. We achieved goals (1) and (2). We developed a soft-imprint method for sol-based titanium dioxide precursor films (index range 2.3-2.4) and integrated imprinted films in thin-film silicon devices. We did not fully reach goal (3): depending on the model used for interpretation of the optical experimental data, AM1.5 photon absorption was improved by only 53% (coherent electromagnetic model) to 66% (non-coherent ray-tracing model). When compared to a metallized flat reference film (double-pass absorption), the improvement due to the grating is only 6%, if the (more conservative) electromagnetic model is used. Other important achievements from this project were: -We perfected an imprinting method for another ceramic material, aluminum oxide phosphate, which is index-matched with glass. -We tested diffractive light trapping at different incidence angles and found positive evidence for light trapping for angles up to 50°, although the light-trapping efficiency decreased with increasing incidence angle. -The extent of the trapped wavelength range scales with the refractive index of the dielectric material. The full benefit of a high refractive index, however, is only achieved if the dielectric layer underneath the grating layer (the residual layer) is sufficiently thick (several 100 nm). For a very thin residual layer, the light wave is predominantly localized in the underlying material during diffraction, and this material's refractive index then determines the trapping range. The (welcomed) consequence is that if this material is the silicon absorber layer, e.g. in a thin-film superstrate configuration, a very large trapping range can be achieved even if a low-index dielectric is used. We tested this directly through light-trapping experiments in glass plates using two different imprinted dielectric materials, titanium dioxide (index range 2.3-2.4) and aluminum oxide phosphate (index 1.5), with thick and thin residual layers. -We tested both copper and aluminum as low-cost reflector alternatives to silver on the grating back sides. In the relevant wavelength range above 650 nm, copper not only has the same high reflectance as silver, but the diffraction efficiency is also on par with silver. -A total of five scientific publications resulting from this work have either been published or are in preparation for submission (see Detailed Technical Report, below). Two conference presentations were given. In conclusion, we successfully developed nanoimprinting techniques for two ceramic precursor materials and tested diffractive light trapping in c-Si and nc-Si:H thin-film devices. The measured amount of light trapping did not fully reach our target value. The lessons learned from this project, however, both concerning experimental techniques and theoretical/modeling methods, have been extensive. Light trapping remains a central issue in thin c-Si technology, and we recommend to the US Department of Energy to increase research in this important area.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2010},
month = {11}
}

Technical Report:
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