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Title: Light-trapping and recycling for extraordinary power conversion in ultra-thin gallium-arsenide solar cells

Abstract

Here, we demonstrate nearly 30% power conversion efficiency in ultra-thin (~200 nm) gallium arsenide photonic crystal solar cells by numerical solution of the coupled electromagnetic Maxwell and semiconductor drift-diffusion equations. Our architecture enables wave-interference-induced solar light trapping in the wavelength range from 300-865 nm, leading to absorption of almost 90% of incoming sunlight. Our optimized design for 200 nm equivalent bulk thickness of GaAs, is a square-lattice, slanted conical-pore photonic crystal (lattice constant 550 nm, pore diameter 600 nm, and pore depth 290 nm), passivated with AlGaAs, deposited on a silver back-reflector, with ITO upper contact and encapsulated with SiO 2. Our model includes both radiative and non-radiative recombination of photo-generated charge carriers. When all light from radiative recombination is assumed to escape the structure, a maximum achievable photocurrent density (MAPD) of 27.6 mA/cm 2 is obtained from normally incident AM 1.5 sunlight. For a surface non-radiative recombination velocity of 10 3 cm/s, this corresponds to a solar power conversion efficiency of 28.3%. When all light from radiative recombination is trapped and reabsorbed (complete photon recycling) the power conversion efficiency increases to 29%. If the surface recombination velocity is reduced to 10 cm/sec, photon recycling is much more effective andmore » the power conversion efficiency reaches 30.6%.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1]
  1. Univ. of Toronto, Toronto, ON (Canada). Dept. of Physics
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. of Toronto, Toronto, ON (Canada)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1285868
Grant/Contract Number:
FG02-06ER46347
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
14 SOLAR ENERGY; efficiency; localization; absorption; devices

Citation Formats

Eyderman, Sergey, and John, Sajeev. Light-trapping and recycling for extraordinary power conversion in ultra-thin gallium-arsenide solar cells. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1038/srep28303.
Eyderman, Sergey, & John, Sajeev. Light-trapping and recycling for extraordinary power conversion in ultra-thin gallium-arsenide solar cells. United States. doi:10.1038/srep28303.
Eyderman, Sergey, and John, Sajeev. 2016. "Light-trapping and recycling for extraordinary power conversion in ultra-thin gallium-arsenide solar cells". United States. doi:10.1038/srep28303. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1285868.
@article{osti_1285868,
title = {Light-trapping and recycling for extraordinary power conversion in ultra-thin gallium-arsenide solar cells},
author = {Eyderman, Sergey and John, Sajeev},
abstractNote = {Here, we demonstrate nearly 30% power conversion efficiency in ultra-thin (~200 nm) gallium arsenide photonic crystal solar cells by numerical solution of the coupled electromagnetic Maxwell and semiconductor drift-diffusion equations. Our architecture enables wave-interference-induced solar light trapping in the wavelength range from 300-865 nm, leading to absorption of almost 90% of incoming sunlight. Our optimized design for 200 nm equivalent bulk thickness of GaAs, is a square-lattice, slanted conical-pore photonic crystal (lattice constant 550 nm, pore diameter 600 nm, and pore depth 290 nm), passivated with AlGaAs, deposited on a silver back-reflector, with ITO upper contact and encapsulated with SiO2. Our model includes both radiative and non-radiative recombination of photo-generated charge carriers. When all light from radiative recombination is assumed to escape the structure, a maximum achievable photocurrent density (MAPD) of 27.6 mA/cm2 is obtained from normally incident AM 1.5 sunlight. For a surface non-radiative recombination velocity of 103 cm/s, this corresponds to a solar power conversion efficiency of 28.3%. When all light from radiative recombination is trapped and reabsorbed (complete photon recycling) the power conversion efficiency increases to 29%. If the surface recombination velocity is reduced to 10 cm/sec, photon recycling is much more effective and the power conversion efficiency reaches 30.6%.},
doi = {10.1038/srep28303},
journal = {Scientific Reports},
number = ,
volume = 6,
place = {United States},
year = 2016,
month = 6
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
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Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 4works
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  • Although ultra-thin-film solar cells can be attractive in reducing the cost, they suffer from low absorption as the thickness of the active layer is usually much smaller than the wavelength of incident light. Different nano-photonic techniques, including plasmonic structures, are being explored to increase the light absorption in ultra-thin-film solar cells. More than one layer of active materials with different energy bandgaps can be used in tandem to increase the light absorption as well. However, due to different amount of light absorption in different active layers, photo-generated currents in different active layers will not be the same. The current mismatchmore » between the tandem layers makes them ineffective in increasing the efficiency. In this work, we investigate the light absorption properties of tandem solar cells with two ultra-thin active layers working as two subcells and a metal layer with periodically perforated holes in-between the two subcells. While the metal layer helps to overcome the current mismatch, the periodic holes increase the absorption of incident light by helping extraordinary optical transmission of the incident light from the top to the bottom subcell, and by coupling the incident light to plasmonic and photonic modes within ultra-thin active layers. We extensively study the effects of the geometry of holes in the intermediate metal layer on the light absorption properties of tandem solar cells with ultra-thin active layers. We also study how different metals in the intermediate layer affect the light absorption; how the geometry of holes in the intermediate layer affects the absorption when the active layer materials are changed; and how the intermediate metal layer affects the collection of photo-generated electron-hole pairs at the terminals. We find that in a solar cell with 6,6-phenyl C61-butyric acid methyl ester top subcell and copper indium gallium selenide bottom subcell, if the periodic holes in the metal layer are square or polygon, total absorption remains approximately the same. However, the total absorption suffers significantly if the holes are triangle. The transmission spectra of incident light into the bottom subcell, and hence the absorption, change significantly for square and circle holes if the active materials change to cadmium selenide (CdSe) and cadmium telluride (CdTe) in the top and bottom subcells, respectively. Although the intermediate metal layer may induce electron-hole pair recombination due to surface defects, the short-circuit current density of an ultra-thin plasmonic solar cell with an intermediate metal layer with two-dimensional hole array is >9% of that of a structure without the intermediate metal layer.« less
  • Thick wafer-silicon is the dominant solar cell technology. It is of great interest to develop ultra-thin solar cells that can reduce materials usage, but still achieve acceptable performance and high solar absorption. Accordingly, we developed a highly absorbing ultra-thin crystalline Si based solar cell architecture using periodically patterned front and rear dielectric nanocone arrays which provide enhanced light trapping. The rear nanocones are embedded in a silver back reflector. In contrast to previous approaches, we utilize dielectric photonic crystals with a completely flat silicon absorber layer, providing expected high electronic quality and low carrier recombination. This architecture creates a densemore » mesh of wave-guided modes at near-infrared wavelengths in the absorber layer, generating enhanced absorption. For thin silicon (<2 μm) and 750 nm pitch arrays, scattering matrix simulations predict enhancements exceeding 90%. Absorption approaches the Lambertian limit at small thicknesses (<10 μm) and is slightly lower (by ~5%) at wafer-scale thicknesses. Parasitic losses are ~25% for ultra-thin (2 μm) silicon and just 1%–2% for thicker (>100 μm) cells. There is potential for 20 μm thick cells to provide 30 mA/cm2 photo-current and >20% efficiency. Furthermore, this architecture has great promise for ultra-thin silicon solar panels with reduced material utilization and enhanced light-trapping.« less