Plasmonic nanostructures have been recently investigated as a possible way to improve absorption of light in solar cells. The strong interaction of small metal nanostructures with light allows control over the propagation of light at the nanoscale and thus the design of ultrathin solar cells in which light is trapped in the active layer and efficiently absorbed. In this paper we review some of our recent work in the field of plasmonics for improved solar cells. We have investigated two possible ways of integrating metal nanoparticles in a solar cell. First, a layer of Ag nanoparticles that improves the standard antireflection coating used for crystalline and amorphous silicon solar cells has been designed and fabricated. Second, regular and random arrays of metal nanostructures have been designed to couple light in waveguide modes of thin semiconductor layers. Using a large-scale, relative inexpensive nano-imprint technique, we have designed a back-contact light trapping surface for a-Si:H solar cells which show enhanced efficiency over standard randomly textured cells.

J. Opt.
Photonic Materials

Spinelli, P., Ferry, V. E., van de Groep, J., van Lare, M. C., Verschuuren, M., Schropp, R., … Polman, A. (2012). Plasmonic light trapping in thin-film Si solar cells. J. Opt., 14(Article number: 24002), 1–11. doi:10.1088/2040-8978/14/2/024002