We present a simple, low-cost, and scalable approach for the fabrication of efficient nanorod-based solar cells. Templates with arrays of self-assembled ZnOnanorods with tunable morphology are synthesized by chemical bath deposition using a low process temperature at 80 °C. The nanorod templates are conformally coated with hydrogenated amorphous silicon light absorber layers of 100 nm and 200 nm thickness. An initial efficiency of up to 9.0% is achieved for the optimized design. External quantum efficiency measurements on the nanorod cells show a substantial photocurrent enhancement both in the red and the blue parts of the solar spectrum. Key insights in the light trapping mechanisms in these arrays are obtained via a combination of three-dimensional finite-difference time-domain simulations, optical absorption, and external quantum efficiency measurements. Front surface patterns enhance the light incoupling in the blue, while rear side patterns lead to enhanced light trapping in the red. The red response in the nanorod cells is limited by absorption in the patterned Ag back contact. With these findings, we develop and experimentally realize a further advanced design with patterned front and back sides while keeping the Ag reflector flat, showing significantly enhanced scattering from the back reflector with reduced parasitic absorption in the Ag and thus higher photocurrent generation. Many of the findings in this work can serve to provide insights for further optimization of nanostructures for thin-filmsolar cells in a broad range of materials.

J. Appl. Phys.
Photonic Materials

Kuang, Y., van Lare, M. C., Veldhuizen, L., Polman, A., Rath, J. K., & Schropp, R. (2015). Efficient nanorod-based amorphous silicon solar cells with advanced light trapping. J. Appl. Phys., 18(Article number: 185307), 1–9. doi:10.1063/1.4935539