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Disorder improves nanophotonic light trapping in thin-film solar cells

: Paetzold, Ulrich Wilhelm; Smeets, Michael; Meier, Matthias; Bittkau, Karsten; Merdzhanova, T.; Smirnov, Vladimir; Michaelis, Dirk; Wächter, Christoph; Carius, Reinhard; Rau, Uwe


Applied Physics Letters 104 (2014), No.13, Art. 131102, 6 pp.
ISSN: 0003-6951 (Print)
ISSN: 1077-3118
ISSN: 1931-9401 (online)
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IOF ()
external quantum efficiency; grating couplers; leaky waveguides; light couplings; light-trapping effects; quasi-periodic; textured superstrates; thin-film solar cells

We present a systematic experimental study on the impact of disorder in advanced nanophotonic light-trapping concepts of thin-film solar cells. Thin-film solar cells made of hydrogenated amorphous silicon were prepared on imprint-textured glass superstrates. For periodically textured superstrates of periods below 500nm, the nanophotonic light-trapping effect is already superior to state-of-the-art randomly textured front contacts. The nanophotonic light-trapping effect can be associated to light coupling to leaky waveguide modes causing resonances in the external quantum efficiency of only a few nanometer widths for wavelengths longer than 500nm. With increasing disorder of the nanotextured front contact, these resonances broaden and their relative altitude decreases. Moreover, overall the external quantum efficiency, i.e., the light-trapping effect, increases incrementally with increasing disorder. Thereby, our study is a systematic experimental proof that disorder is conceptually an advantage for nanophotonic light-trapping concepts employing grating couplers in thin-film solar cells. The result is relevant for the large field of research on nanophotonic light trapping in thin-film solar cells which currently investigates and prototypes a number of new concepts including disordered periodic and quasi periodic textures.