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Opt Express. 2011 Jan 3;19(1):128-40. doi: 10.1364/OE.19.000128.

Understanding of photocurrent enhancement in real thin film solar cells: towards optimal one-dimensional gratings.

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  • 1Institute of Microengineering (IMT), Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Neuchâtel, Switzerland.


Despite the progress in the engineering of structures to enhance photocurrent in thin film solar cells, there are few comprehensive studies which provide general and intuitive insight into the problem of light trapping. Also, lack of theoretical propositions which are consistent with fabrication is an issue to be improved. We investigate a real thin film solar cell with almost conformal layers grown on a 1D grating metallic back-reflector both experimentally and theoretically. Photocurrent increase is observed as an outcome of guided mode excitation in both theory and experiment by obtaining the external quantum efficiency of the cell for different angles of incidence and in both polarization directions. Finally, the effect of geometrical parameters on the short circuit current density of the device is investigated by considering different substrate shapes that are compatible with solar cell fabrication. Based on our simulations, among the investigated shapes, triangular gratings with a very sharp slope in one side, so called sawtooth gratings, are the most promising 1D gratings for optimal light trapping.

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