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Opt Express. 2012 Jul 2;20 Suppl 4:A496-501. doi: 10.1364/OE.20.00A496.

Light trapping limits in plasmonic solar cells: an analytical investigation.

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  • 1Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


We analytically investigate the light trapping performance in plasmonic solar cells with Si/metallic structures. We consider absorption enhancements for surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) at planar Si/metal interfaces and localized surface plasmon resonances (LSPRs) for metallic spheres in a Si matrix. We discover that the enhancement factors at Si/metal interfaces are not bound to the conventional Lambertian limit, and strong absorption can be achieved around plasmonic resonant frequencies. In addition, those enhancements are greatly reduced as the fields decay away from the Si/metal interfaces. Therefore, localized plasmonic resonances can be used as efficient light trapping schemes for ultrathin Si solar cells (< 50 nm), while photonic guided mode enhancement is more appropriate for thicker films.

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