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Optimizing two-level hierarchical particles for thin-film solar cells

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Abstract

For the thin-film solar cells embedded with nanostructures at their rear dielectric layer, the shape and location of the nanostructures are crucial for higher conversion efficiency. A novel two-level hierarchical nanostructure (a sphere evenly covered with half truncated smaller spheres) can facilitate stronger intensity and wider scattering angles due to the coexistence of the merits of the nanospheres in two scales. We show in this article that the evolutionary algorithm allows for obtaining the optimal parameters of this two-scale nanostructure in terms of the maximization of the short circuit current density. In comparison with the thin-film solar cells with convex and flat metal back, whose parameters are optimized singly, the short circuit current density is improved by 7.48% and 10.23%, respectively. The exploration of such a two-level hierarchical nanostructure within an optimization framework signifies a new domain of study and allows to better identify the role of sophisticated shape in light trapping in the absorbing film, which is believed to be the main reason for the enhancement of short circuit current density.

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... The absorption enhancement g(λ) also decreases in shorter wavelength range (300 nm to 600 nm) but redshift with broadening due to LSPR.The absorption enhancement g(D, λ) of thin film silicon with different nanoparticle diameters, (a) -TiN, (b) -Au. parison Figure 5(a), (b) show that the light absorption distribution profile in Silicon with TiN and Au metal nanoparticles and light propagates in silicon film through shortest path[46].Figure 4shows that the Enhancement Factor (G) varying with the diameter(0-200 nm) of TiN and Au. It is observed that Enhancement Factor (G) of TiN comparable to Au with an increment of nanoparticle diameters. ...
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A two-stage genetic algorithm (GA) with a floating mutation probability is developed to design a two-dimensional (2D) photonic crystal of a square lattice with the maximal absolute band gap. The unit cell is divided equally into many square pixels, and each filling pattern of pixels with two dielectric materials corresponds to a chromosome consisting of binary digits 0 and 1. As a numerical example, the two-stage GA gives a 2D GaAs structure with a relative width of the absolute band gap of about 19%. After further optimization, a new 2D GaAs photonic crystal is found with an absolute band gap much larger than those reported before.
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Efficient light trapping structures for amorphous hydrogenated silicon (a-Si:H) solar cells have been realized using periodically structured aluminum doped zinc oxide (ZnO:Al) with periods between 390 and 980 nm as a transparent front contact. Atomic force microscopy, optical reflection, and diffraction efficiency measurements were applied to characterize solar cells deposited on such gratings. A simple formula for the threshold wavelength of total internal reflection is derived. Periodic light coupler gratings reduce the reflectance to a value below 10% in the wavelength range of 400–800 nm which is comparable to cells with an optimized statistical texture. Diffraction efficiency measurements and theoretical considerations indicate that a combination of transmission and reflection gratings contribute to the observed reduction of the reflectance. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.
Article
We investigate the energy of arrangements of N points on the surface of a sphere in R 3 , interacting through a power law potential V = r α , −2 < α < 2, where r is Euclidean distance. For α = 0, we take V = log(1/r). An area-regular partitioning scheme of the sphere is devised for the purpose of obtaining bounds for the extremal (equilibrium) energy for such points. For α = 0, finer estimates are obtained for the dominant terms in the minimal energy by considering stereographical projections on the plane and analyzing certain logarithmic potentials. A general conjecture on the asymptotic form (as N → ∞) of the extremal energy, along with its supporting numerical evidence, is presented. Also we introduce explicit sets of points, called "generalized spiral points", that yield good estimates for the extremal energy. At least for N ≤ 12, 000 these points provide a reasonable solution to a problem of M. Shub and S. Smale arising in complexity theory.
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This paper reviews recent developments in the field of amorphous-silicon-based thin-film solar cells and discusses potentials for further improvements. Creative efforts in materials research, device physics, and process engineering have led to highly efficient solar cells based on amorphous hydrogenated silicon. Sophisticated multijunction solar cell designs make use of its unique material properties and strongly suppress light induced degradation. Texture-etching of sputtered ZnO:Al films is presented as a novel technique to design optimized light trapping schemes for silicon thin-film solar cells in both p-i-n and n-i-p device structure. Necessary efforts will be discussed to close the efficiency gap between the highest stabilized efficiencies demonstrated on lab scale and efficiencies achieved in production. In case of a-Si:H/a-Si:H stacked cells prepared on glass substrates, significant reduction of process-related losses and the development of superior TCO substrates on large areas promise distinctly higher module efficiencies. A discussion of future perspectives comprises the potential of new deposition techniques and concepts combining the advantages of amorphous and crystalline silicon thin-film solar cells.
Article
The optics of microcrystalline silicon thin-film solar cells with integrated light trapping structures was investigated. Periodic grating couplers were integrated in microcrystalline silicon thin-film solar cells and the influence of the grating dimensions on the short circuit current and the quantum efficiency was investigated by the numerical simulation of Maxwell’s equations utilizing the finite difference time domain algorithm. The grating structure leads to scattering and higher order diffraction resulting in an increased absorption of the incident light in the silicon thin-film solar cell. The influence of the grating period and the grating height on the short circuit current and the quantum efficiency was investigated. Enhanced quantum efficiencies are observed for the red and infrared parts of the optical spectrum. Optimal dimensions of the grating coupler were obtained.
Article
Recently plasmonic effects have gained tremendous interest in solar cell research because they are deemed to be able to dramatically boost the efficiency of thin-film solar cells. However, despite of the intensive efforts, the desired broadband enhancement, which is critical for real device performance improvement, has yet been achieved with simple fabrication and integration methods appreciated by the solar industry. We propose in this paper a novel idea of using nucleated silver nanoparticles to effectively scatter light in a broadband wavelength range to realize pronounced absorption enhancement in the silicon absorbing layer. Since it does not require critical patterning, experimentally these tailored nanoparticles were achieved by the simple, low-cost and upscalable wet chemical synthesis method and integrated before the back contact layer of the amorphous silicon thin-film solar cells. The solar cells incorporated with 200 nm nucleated silver nanoparticles at 10% coverage density clearly demonstrate a broadband absorption enhancement and significant superior performance including a 14.3% enhancement in the short-circuit photocurrent density and a 23% enhancement in the energy conversion efficiency, compared with the randomly textured reference cells without nanoparticles. Among the measured plasmonic solar cells the highest efficiency achieved was 8.1%. The significant enhancement is mainly attributed to the broadband light scattering arising from the integration of the tailored nucleated silver nanoparticles.
Article
The characteristics of the waves guided along a plane [I] P. S. Epstein, “On the possibility of electromagnetic surface waves, ” Proc. Nat’l dcad. Sciences, vol. 40, pp. 1158-1165, Deinterface which separates a semi-infinite region of free cember 1954. space from that of a magnetoionic medium are investi- [2] T. Tamir and A. A. Oliner, “The spectrum of electromagnetic waves guided by a plasma layer, ” Proc. IEEE, vol. 51, pp. 317gated for the case in which the static magnetic field is 332, February 1963. oriented perpendicular to the plane interface. It is [3] &I. A. Gintsburg, “Surface waves on the boundary of a plasma in a magnetic field, ” Rasprost. Radwvoln i Ionosf., Trudy found that surface waves exist only when w,<wp and NIZMIRAN L’SSR, no. 17(27), pp. 208-215, 1960. that also only for angular frequencies which lie bet\\-een [4] S. R. Seshadri and A. Hessel, “Radiation from a source near a plane interface between an isotropic and a gyrotropic dielectric,” we and 1/42 times the upper hybrid resonant frequency. Canad. J. Phys., vol. 42, pp. 2153-2172, November 1964. The surface waves propagate with a phase velocity [5] G. H. Owpang and S. R. Seshadri, “Guided waves propagating along the magnetostatic field at a plane boundary of a semiwhich is always less than the velocity of electromagnetic infinite magnetoionic medium, ” IEEE Trans. on Miomave waves in free space. The attenuation rates normal to the Tbory and Techniques, vol. MTT-14, pp. 136144, March 1966. [6] S. R. Seshadri and T. T. \Vu, “Radiation condition for a maginterface of the surface wave fields in both the media are netoionic medium. ” to be Dublished. examined. Kumerical results of the surface wave characteristics are given for one typical case.
Article
The enhancement of solar light absorption in a solar cell is a challenging issue. In this article we show that in a thin-film silicon solar cell covered with silver nanoparticles on the surface, the absorption of the incident light can be particularly enhanced at certain angular range and wavelength. Such absorption enhancements are associated with the resonant localized surface plasmon (LSP) modes of the nanoparticle and nanoparticle-induced local Fabry-Perot (FP) modes. Our simulations suggest that the spectral shift of the LSP modes due to changing the incident angle leads to an incident-angle-sensitive absorption enhancement of the solar cell. Selecting the incident angle in a well-defined range of 0° to 35° is essential for optimizing the performance of a thin-film solar cell.
Article
In this study, an evolutionary algorithm (EA), which consists of genetic and immune algorithms, is introduced to design the optical geometry of a nonimaging Fresnel lens; this lens generates the uniform flux concentration required for a photovoltaic cell. Herein, a design procedure that incorporates a ray-tracing technique in the EA is described, and the validity of the design is demonstrated. The results show that the EA automatically generated a unique geometry of the Fresnel lens; the use of this geometry resulted in better uniform flux concentration with high optical efficiency.
Article
The influence of nano textured front contacts on the optical wave propagation within microcrystalline thin-film silicon solar cell was investigated. Periodic triangular gratings were integrated in solar cells and the influence of the profile dimensions on the quantum efficiency and the short circuit current was studied. A Finite Difference Time Domain approach was used to rigorously solve the Maxwell's equations in two dimensions. By studying the influence of the period and height of the triangular profile, the design of the structures were optimized to achieve higher short circuit currents and quantum efficiencies. Enhancement of the short circuit current in the blue part of the spectrum is achieved for small triangular periods (P<200 nm), whereas the short circuit current in the red and infrared part of the spectrum is increased for triangular periods (P = 900nm) comparable to the optical wavelength. The influence of the surface texture on the solar cell performance will be discussed.
Article
The intrinsic limits on the energy conversion efficiency of silicon solar cells when used under concentrated sunlight are calculated. It is shown that Auger recombination processes are even more important under concentrated sunlight than nonconcentrated sunlight. However, light trapping can be far more effective under concentrated light due to the better defined direction of incident light. As a result of these effects, the limiting efficiency lies in tile 36-37-percent range regardless of concentration ratio compared to the limiting value of 29.8 percent for a nonconcentrating cell with isotropic response.
Genetic-algorithm discovery of a direct-gap and optically allowed superstructure from indirect-gap Si and Ge semiconductors
  • M Avezac
  • J W Luo
  • T Chanier
  • A Zunger
M. d'Avezac, J. W. Luo, T. Chanier, and A. Zunger, "Genetic-algorithm discovery of a direct-gap and optically allowed superstructure from indirect-gap Si and Ge semiconductors," Phys. Rev. Lett. 108(2), 027401 (2012).
  • Atwater