Plasmonic nanostructure design for efficient light coupling into solar cells

Vivian E. Ferry, Luke A. Sweatlock, Domenico Pacifici, Harry A. Atwater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

642 Scopus citations

Abstract

We demonstrate that subwavelength scatterers can couple sunlight into guided modes in thin film Si and GaAs plasmonic solar cells whose back interface is coated with a corrugated metal film. Using numerical simulations, we find that incoupling of sunlight is remarkably insensitive to incident angle, and that the spectral features of the coupling efficiency originate from several different resonant phenomena. The incoupling cross section can be spectrally tuned and enhanced through modification of the scatterer shape, semiconductor film thickness, and materials choice. We demonstrate that, for example, a single 100 nm wide groove under a 200 nm Si thin film can enhance absorption by a factor of 2.5 over a 10 μm area for the portion of the solar spectrum near the Si band gap. These findings show promise for the design of ultrathin solar cells that exhibit enhanced absorption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4391-4397
Number of pages7
JournalNano letters
Volume8
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2008

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