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Plasmonic mirror for light-trapping in thin film solar cells

Plasmonic mirror for light-trapping in thin film solar cells
Plasmonic mirror for light-trapping in thin film solar cells
Microcrystalline silicon solar cells require an enhanced absorption of photons in the near-bandgap region between 700-1150nm. Conventional textured mirrors scatter light and increase the path length of photons in the absorber by total internal reflection. However, these mirrors exhibit a high surface roughness which degrades the performance of the microcrystalline silicon device. An alternative solution is to use metal nanoparticles with low surface roughness to scatter light. An illuminated metal nanoparticle exhibits a resonant or plasmonic excitation which can be tuned to enable a strong scattering of light. This work aims to develop an efficient near-infrared light-scattering system using randomly arranged metal nanoparticles near a mirror.

Situating the nanoparticles at the rear of the solar cell helps to target weakly absorbed photons and eliminate out-coupling losses by the inclusion of a rear mirror. Simulation results show that the electric field driving the plasmonic resonance can be tuned with particle-mirror separation distance. The plasmonic scattering is maximised when the peak of the driving field intensity coincides with the intrinsic resonance of the nanoparticle.

An e-beam lithography process was developed to fabricate a pseudo-random array of Ag nanodiscs near a Ag mirror. The optimized plasmonic mirror, with 6% coverage of 200nm Ag discs, shows higher diffusive reflectivity than a conventional textured mirror in the near-infrared region, over a broad angular range. Unlike a mirror with self-organised Ag islands, the mirror with Ag nanodiscs exhibits a low surface roughness of 13.5nm and low broadband absorption losses of around 10%.

An 8.20% efficient thin n-i-p ?c-Si:H solar cell, with the plasmonic mirror integrated at the rear, has been successfully fabricated. The optimised plasmonic solar cell showed an increase of 2.3mA in the short-circuit current density (Jsc), 6mV in the open-circuit voltage (Voc) and 0.97% in the efficiency (?), when compared to the planar cell counterpart with no nanodiscs. The low surface roughness of the plasmonic mirror ensures no degradation in the electrical quality of the ?c-Si:H layer – this is also confirmed by the constant value of the fill factor (FF). The increase in Jsc is demonstrated to be mainly due to optical absorption enhancement in the near-infrared region as a result of plasmonic scattering, by detailed calculation of the exact photogenerated current in the plasmonic and planar devices, for the 700-1150nm wavelength range.
Sesuraj, Rufina
dd3e75c6-dc6d-4d91-b5a9-916ebac1c73d
Sesuraj, Rufina
dd3e75c6-dc6d-4d91-b5a9-916ebac1c73d
Chong, Harold
795aa67f-29e5-480f-b1bc-9bd5c0d558e1
Bagnall, Darren
5d84abc8-77e5-43f7-97cb-e28533f25ef1

Sesuraj, Rufina (2014) Plasmonic mirror for light-trapping in thin film solar cells. University of Southampton, Physical Sciences and Engineering, Doctoral Thesis, 160pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Microcrystalline silicon solar cells require an enhanced absorption of photons in the near-bandgap region between 700-1150nm. Conventional textured mirrors scatter light and increase the path length of photons in the absorber by total internal reflection. However, these mirrors exhibit a high surface roughness which degrades the performance of the microcrystalline silicon device. An alternative solution is to use metal nanoparticles with low surface roughness to scatter light. An illuminated metal nanoparticle exhibits a resonant or plasmonic excitation which can be tuned to enable a strong scattering of light. This work aims to develop an efficient near-infrared light-scattering system using randomly arranged metal nanoparticles near a mirror.

Situating the nanoparticles at the rear of the solar cell helps to target weakly absorbed photons and eliminate out-coupling losses by the inclusion of a rear mirror. Simulation results show that the electric field driving the plasmonic resonance can be tuned with particle-mirror separation distance. The plasmonic scattering is maximised when the peak of the driving field intensity coincides with the intrinsic resonance of the nanoparticle.

An e-beam lithography process was developed to fabricate a pseudo-random array of Ag nanodiscs near a Ag mirror. The optimized plasmonic mirror, with 6% coverage of 200nm Ag discs, shows higher diffusive reflectivity than a conventional textured mirror in the near-infrared region, over a broad angular range. Unlike a mirror with self-organised Ag islands, the mirror with Ag nanodiscs exhibits a low surface roughness of 13.5nm and low broadband absorption losses of around 10%.

An 8.20% efficient thin n-i-p ?c-Si:H solar cell, with the plasmonic mirror integrated at the rear, has been successfully fabricated. The optimised plasmonic solar cell showed an increase of 2.3mA in the short-circuit current density (Jsc), 6mV in the open-circuit voltage (Voc) and 0.97% in the efficiency (?), when compared to the planar cell counterpart with no nanodiscs. The low surface roughness of the plasmonic mirror ensures no degradation in the electrical quality of the ?c-Si:H layer – this is also confirmed by the constant value of the fill factor (FF). The increase in Jsc is demonstrated to be mainly due to optical absorption enhancement in the near-infrared region as a result of plasmonic scattering, by detailed calculation of the exact photogenerated current in the plasmonic and planar devices, for the 700-1150nm wavelength range.

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Published date: April 2014
Organisations: University of Southampton, Nanoelectronics and Nanotechnology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 366663
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/366663
PURE UUID: ac229e70-707c-445a-8f92-ab5445f65192
ORCID for Harold Chong: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-7110-5761

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 20 Oct 2014 12:00
Last modified: 06 Jun 2018 12:37

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