Optimization of non-periodic plasmonic light-trapping layers for thin-film solar cells

Nat Commun. 2013;4:2095. doi: 10.1038/ncomms3095.


Non-periodic arrangements of nanoscale light scatterers allow for the realization of extremely effective broadband light-trapping layers for solar cells. However, their optimization is challenging given the massive number of degrees of freedom. Brute-force, full-field electromagnetic simulations are computationally too time intensive to identify high-performance solutions in a vast design space. Here we illustrate how a semi-analytical model can be used to quickly identify promising non-periodic spatial arrangements of nanoscale scatterers. This model only requires basic knowledge of the scattering behaviour of a chosen nanostructure and the waveguiding properties of the semiconductor layer in a cell. Due to its simplicity, it provides new intuition into the ideal amount of disorder in high-performance light-trapping layers. Using simulations and experiments, we demonstrate that arrays of nanometallic stripes featuring a limited amount of disorder, for example, following a quasi-periodic or Fibonacci sequence, can substantially enhance solar absorption over perfectly periodic and random arrays.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.