Optical analysis of a III-V-nanowire-array-on-Si dual junction solar cell
A tandem solar cell consisting of a III-V nanowire subcell on top of a planar Si subcell is a promising candidate for next generation photovoltaics due to the potential for high efficiency. However, for success with such applications, the geometry of the system must be optimized for absorption of sunlight. Here, we consider this absorption through optics modeling. Similarly, as for a bulk dual-junction tandem system on a silicon bottom cell, a bandgap of approximately 1.7 eV is optimum for the nanowire top cell. First, we consider a simplified system of bare, uncoated III-V nanowires on the silicon substrate and optimize the absorption in the nanowires. We find that an optimum absorption in 2000 nm long nanowires is reached for a dense array of approximately 15 nanowires per square micrometer. However, when we coat such an array with a conformal indium tin oxide (ITO) top contact layer, a substantial absorption loss occurs in the ITO. This ITO could absorb 37% of the low energy photons intended for the silicon subcell. By moving to a design with a 50 nm thick, planarized ITO top layer, we can reduce this ITO absorption to 5%. However, such a planarized design introduces additional reflection losses. We show that these reflection losses can be reduced with a 100 nm thick SiO2 anti-reflection coating on top of the ITO layer. When we at the same time include a Si3N4 layer with a thickness of 90 nm on the silicon surface between the nanowires, we can reduce the average reflection loss of the silicon cell from 17% to 4%. Finally, we show that different approximate models for the absorption in the silicon substrate can lead to a 15% variation in the estimated photocurrent density in the silicon subcell.