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Phys Rev Lett. 2012 Sep 28;109(13):138701. Epub 2012 Sep 27.

Near-field electromagnetic theory for thin solar cells.

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NSF Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC), University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


Current methods for evaluating solar cell efficiencies cannot be applied to low-dimensional structures where phenomena from the realm of near-field optics prevail. We present a theoretical approach to analyze solar cell performance by allowing rigorous electromagnetic calculations of the emission rate using the fluctuation-dissipation theorem. Our approach shows the direct quantification of the voltage, current, and efficiency of low-dimensional solar cells. This approach is demonstrated by calculating the voltage and the efficiency of a GaAs slab solar cell for thicknesses from several microns down to a few nanometers. This example highlights the ability of the proposed approach to capture the role of optical near-field effects in solar cell performance.

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