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Title: Plasmonic mirror for light-trapping in thin film solar cells
Author: Sesuraj, Rufina
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 7704
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2014
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Microcrystalline silicon solar cells require an enhanced absorption of photons in the near-bandgap region between 700-1150nm. Conventional textured mirrors scatter light and increase the path length of photons in the absorber by total internal reflection. However, these mirrors exhibit a high surface roughness which degrades the performance of the microcrystalline silicon device. An alternative solution is to use metal nanoparticles with low surface roughness to scatter light. An illuminated metal nanoparticle exhibits a resonant or plasmonic excitation which can be tuned to enable a strong scattering of light. This work aims to develop an efficient near-infrared light-scattering system using randomly arranged metal nanoparticles near a mirror. Situating the nanoparticles at the rear of the solar cell helps to target weakly absorbed photons and eliminate out-coupling losses by the inclusion of a rear mirror. Simulation results show that the electric field driving the plasmonic resonance can be tuned with particle-mirror separation distance. The plasmonic scattering is maximised when the peak of the driving field intensity coincides with the intrinsic resonance of the nanoparticle. An e-beam lithography process was developed to fabricate a pseudo-random array of Ag nanodiscs near a Ag mirror. The optimized plasmonic mirror, with 6% coverage of 200nm Ag discs, shows higher diffusive reflectivity than a conventional textured mirror in the near-infrared region, over a broad angular range. Unlike a mirror with self-organised Ag islands, the mirror with Ag nanodiscs exhibits a low surface roughness of 13.5nm and low broadband absorption losses of around 10%. An 8.20% efficient thin n-i-p μc-Si:H solar cell, with the plasmonic mirror integrated at the rear, has been successfully fabricated. The optimised plasmonic solar cell showed an increase of 2.3mA in the short-circuit current density (Jsc), 6mV in the open-circuit voltage (Voc) and 0.97% in the efficiency (η), when compared to the planar cell counterpart with no nanodiscs. The low surface roughness of the plasmonic mirror ensures no degradation in the electrical quality of the μc-Si:H layer – this is also confirmed by the constant value of the fill factor (FF). The increase in Jsc is demonstrated to be mainly due to optical absorption enhancement in the near-infrared region as a result of plasmonic scattering, by detailed calculation of the exact photogenerated current in the plasmonic and planar devices, for the 700-1150nm wavelength range.
Supervisor: Chong, Harold ; Bagnall, Darren Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science