Optimization of the absorption efficiency of an amorphous-silicon thin-film tandem solar cell backed by a metallic surface-relief grating

Manuel Solano, Muhammad Faryad, Anthony S. Hall, Thomas E. Mallouk, Peter B. Monk, Akhlesh Lakhtakia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The rigorous coupled-wave approach was used to compute the plane-wave absorptance of a thin-film tandem solar cell with a metallic surface-relief grating as its back reflector. The absorptance is a function of the angle of incidence and the polarization state of incident light; the free-space wavelength; and the period, duty cycle, the corrugation height, and the shape of the unit cell of the surface-relief grating. The solar cell was assumed to be made of hydrogenated amorphous-silicon alloys and the back reflector of bulk aluminum. The incidence and the grating planes were taken to be identical. The AM1.5 solar irra-diance spectrum was used for computations in the 400-1100 nm wavelength range. Inspection of parametric plots of the solar-spectrum- integrated (SSI) absorption efficiency and numerical optimization using the differential evolution algorithm were employed to determine the optimal surface-relief grating. For direct insolation, the SSI absorption efficiency is maximizable by appropriate choices of the period, the duty cycle, and the corrugation height, regardless of the shape of the corrugation in each unit cell of the grating. A similar conclusion also holds for diffuse insolation, but the maximum efficiency for diffuse insolation is about 20% smaller than for direct insolation. Although a tin-doped indium-oxide layer at the front and an aluminum-doped zinc-oxide layer between the semiconductor material and the backing metallic layer change the optimal depth of the periodic corrugations, the optimal period of the corrugations does not significantly change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)966-979
Number of pages14
JournalApplied optics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 10 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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