Combined optical-electrical finite-element simulations of thin-film solar cells with homogeneous and nonhomogeneous intrinsic layers

Tom H. Anderson, Muhammad Faryad, Tom G. Mackay, Akhlesh Lakhtakia, Rajendra Singh

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A two-dimensional finite-element model was developed to simulate the optoelectronic performance of thin-film, p-i-n junction solar cells. One or three p-i-n junctions filled the region between the front window and back reflector; semiconductor layers were made from mixtures of two different alloys of hydrogenated amorphous silicon; empirical relationships between the complex-valued relative optical permittivity and the bandgap were used; a transparent-conducting-oxide layer was attached to the front surface of the solar cell; and a metallic reflector, either flat or periodically corrugated, was attached to the back surface. First, frequency-domain Maxwell postulates were solved to determine the spatial absorption of photons and thus the generation of electron-hole pairs. The AM1.5G solar spectrum was taken to represent the incident solar flux. Second, drift-diffusion equations were solved for the steady-state electron and hole densities. Numerical results indicate that increasing the number of p-i-n junctions from one to three may increase the solar-cell efficiency by up to 14%. In the case of single p-i-n junction solar cells, our simulations indicate that efficiency may be increased by up to 17% by incorporating a periodically corrugated back reflector (as opposed to a flat back reflector) and by tailoring the bandgap profile in the i layer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number025502
JournalJournal of Photonics for Energy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

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