Hostname: page-component-5db6c4db9b-mcx2m Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-03-25T10:03:29.413Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Coherent light trapping in thin-film photovoltaics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2011

Shrestha Basu Mallick
Stanford University;
Nicholas P. Sergeant
Stanford University;
Mukul Agrawal
Applied Materials, Santa Clara, CA;
Jung-Yong Lee
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology;
Peter Peumans
Stanford University;
Get access


Thin-film photovoltaic technologies have an enormous potential to reduce the cost of solar electricity. However, because thin photoactive layers are used, optical absorption is incomplete unless light-trapping strategies are employed. Since conventional light-trapping approaches based on geometric scattering are less effective in thin-film cells, coherent light-trapping approaches that exploit the wave nature of light are being explored to enhance optical absorption. In this article, we look at the various strategies for coherent light trapping in thin-film solar cells, including photonic crystals, metal nanostructures, and multilayer stacks. The suitability of a particular strategy depends on factors such as configuration of the solar cell, process compatibility, cost, desired angular response, and materials usage. We also discuss the physical limits of light trapping in thin films.

Research Article
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


1.Shockley, W., Queisser, H.J., J. Appl. Phys. 32, 510 (1961).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
2.Yablonovitch, E., J. Opt. Soc. Am. 72, 899 (1982).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
3.Tiedje, T., Yablonovitch, E., Cody, G.D., Brooks, B.G., IEEE Trans. Electron Devices 31, 711 (1984).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
4.Yablonovitch, E., Cody, G., IEEE Trans. Electron Devices 29, 300 (1982).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
5.Zhao, , Green, M.A., IEEE Trans. Electron. Devices 38, 1925 (1991).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
6.Bilyalov, R.R., Stalmans, L., Schirone, L., Levy-Clement, C., IEEE Trans. Electron. Devices 46, 2035 (1999).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
7.Campbell, P., Green, M.A., J. Appl. Phys. 62, 243 (1987).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
8.Müller, J., Rech, B., Springer, J., Vanecek, M., Sol. Energy 77, 917 (2004).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
9.Gee, J., in Twenty-Ninth IEEE Photovolt. Spec. Conf. (2002), pp. 150153.Google Scholar
10.Agrawal, M., Photonic Design for Efficient Solid-State Energy Conversion (Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 2008).Google Scholar
11.Tobías, I., Luque, A., Marti, A., J. Appl. Phys. 104, 034502 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
12.Saeta, P.N., Ferry, V.E., Pacifici, D., Munday, J.N., Atwater, H.A., Opt. Express 17, 20975 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
13.Yu, Z., Raman, A., Fan, S., in Optics for Solar Energy, OSA Technical Digest (CD) (Optical Society of America, 2010), paper PDSWB1.Google Scholar
14.Green, M.A., Progr. Photovoltaics (2011), in press.Google Scholar
15.Yu, Z., Raman, A., Fan, S., PNAS 107, 17491 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
16.Joannopoulos, J., Meade, R., Winn, J., Photonic Crystals: Molding the Flow of Light (Princeton, Princeton, NJ, 1995).Google Scholar
17.Fink, Y., Winn, J.N., Fan, S., Chen, C., Michel, J., Joannopoulos, J.D., Thomas, E.L., Science 282, 1679 (1998).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
18.Zeng, L., Yi, Y., Hong, C.-Y., Duan, X., Kimerling, L.C., in Mater. Res. Soc. Symp. Proc. (Materials Research Society, Boston, MA, 2005), vol. 862.Google Scholar
19.Zeng, L., Bermel, P., Yi, Y., Feng, N., Hong, C.-Y., Duan, X., Joannopoulos, J.D., Kimerling, L.C., in Mater. Res. Soc. Symp. Proc. (Materials Research Society, Boston, MA, 2006), vol. 974E.Google Scholar
20.Zeng, L., Yi, Y., Hong, C.-Y., Liu, J., Ning Feng, N., Duan, X., Kimerling, L.C., Alamariu, B., Appl. Phys. Lett. 89, 111 (2006).Google Scholar
21.Feng, N., Michel, J., Zeng, L., Liu, J., Hong, C.-Y., Kimerling, L.C., Duan, X., IEEE Trans. Electron Devices 54, 1926 (2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
22.Bermel, P., Luo, C., Zeng, L., Kimerling, L.C., Joannopoulos, J.D., Opt. Express 15, 16986 (2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
23.O’Brien, P., Kherani, N.P., Chutinan, A., Ozin, G.A., John, S., Zukotynski, S., Adv. Mater. 20, 1577 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
24.O’Brien, P., Kherani, N.P., Chutinan, A., Ozin, G.A., John, S., Zukotynski, S., in 34th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC) (2009).Google Scholar
25.Mihi, A., Miguez, H., J. Phys. Chem. B 109 (15), 968 (2005).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
26.Mihi, A., López-Alcaraz, F.J., Miguez, H., Appl. Phys. Lett. 88, 193110 (2006).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
27.Colodrero, S., Mihi, A., Häggman, L., Ocaña, M., Boschloo, G., Hagfeldt, A., Miguez, H., Adv. Mater. 21, 764 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
28.Lozano, G., Colodrero, S., Caulier, O., Calvo, M.E., Miguez, H., J. Phys. Chem. C 114, 3681 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
29.Lee, J.Y., Lee, S., Park, J., Jun, Y., Lee, Y., Kim, K., Yun, J.H., Cho, K.Y., Opt. Express 18, A522 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
30.Mutitu, J.G., Shi, S., Chen, C., Creazzo, T., Barnett, A., Honsberg, C., Prather, D.W., Opt. Express 16, 15238 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
31.Zhou, D., Biswas, R., J. Appl. Phys. 103 (9), 093102 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
32.Zeng, L., Bermel, P., Yi, Y., Alamariu, B.A., Broderick, K.A., Liu, J., Hong, C., Duan, X., Joannopoulos, J., Kimerling, L.C., Appl. Phys. Lett. 93, 221105 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
33.Biswas, R., Bhattacharya, J., Lewis, B., Chakravarty, N., Dalal, V., Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 94, 2337 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
34.Curtin, B., Biswas, R., Dalal, V., Appl. Phys. Lett. 95, 231102 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
35.Gjessing, J., Marstein, E.S., Sudbø, A., Opt. Express 18, 5481 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
36.Bielawny, A., Üpping, J., Miclea, P.T., Wehrspohn, R.B., Rockstuhl, C., Lederer, F., Peters, M., Steidl, L., Zentel, R., Lee, S.-M., Knez, M., Lambertz, A., Carius, R., Phys. Status Solidi A 205, 2796 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
37.Bielawny, A., Rockstuhl, C., Lederer, F., Wehrspohn, R.B., Opt. Express 17, 8439 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
38.O’Brien, P.G., Chutinan, A., Leong, K., Kherani, N.P., Ozin, G.A., Zulotynski, S., Opt. Express 18, 4478 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
39.Stolz Roman, L., Inganäs, O., Granlund, T., Nyberg, T., Svensson, M., Andersson, M.R., Hummelen, J.C., Adv. Mater. 12, 189 (2000).3.0.CO;2-2>CrossRefGoogle Scholar
40.Lee, Y.C., Huang, C.F., Chang, J.Y., Wu, M.L., Opt. Express 16, 7969 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
41.Chutinan, A., Kherani, N.P., Zukotynski, S., Opt. Express 17, 8871 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
42.Zanotto, S., Liscidini, M., Andreani, L.C., Opt. Express 18, 4260 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
43.Park, Y., Drouard, E., Daif, O.E., Letartre, X., Viktorovitch, P., Fave, A., Kaminski, A., Lemiti, M., Seassal, C., Opt. Express 17, 14312 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
44.Daif, O.E., Drouard, E., Gomard, G., Kaminski, A., Fave, A., Lemiti, M., Ahn, S., Kim, S., Cabarrocas, P., Jeon, H., Seassal, C., Opt. Express 18, A293 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
45.Prieto, I., Galiana, B., Postigo, P.A., Algora, C., Martinez, L.J., Rey-Stolle, I., Appl. Phys. Lett. 94, 191102 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
46.Basu Mallick, S., Agrawal, M., Peumans, P., Opt. Express 18, 5691 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
47.Kayes, B.M., Atwater, H.A., Lewis, N.S., J. Appl. Phys. 97, 114302 (2005).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
48.Tsakalakos, L., Balch, J., Fronheiser, J., Korevaar, B.A., Sulima, O., Rand, J., Appl. Phys. Lett. 91, 233117 (2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
49.Stelzner, T., Pietsch, M., Andrä, G., Falk, F., Ose, E., Christiansen, S., Nanotechnology 19, 295203 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
50.Gunawan, O., Guha, S., Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 93, 1388 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
51.Sivakov, V., Andrä, G., Gawlik, A., Berger, A., Plentz, J., Falk, F., Christiansen, S.H., Nano Lett. 9, 1549 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
52.Hu, L., Chen, G., Nano Lett. 7, 3249 (2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
53.Muskens, O., Rivas, J.G., Algra, R.E., Bakkers, E.P., Lagendijk, A., Nano Lett. 8, 2638 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
54.Zhu, J., Hsu, C.-M., Yu, Z., Fan, S., Cui, Y., Nano Lett. 9, 279 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
55.Lin, C., Povinelli, M.L., Opt. Express 17, 19371 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
56.Cao, L., Fan, P., Vasudev, A.P., White, J.S., Yu, Z., Cai, W., Schuller, J.A., Fan, S., Brongersma, M.L., Nano Lett. 10, 439 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
57.Tian, B., Zheng, X., Kempa, T.J., Fang, Y., Yu, N., Yu, G., Huang, J., Lieber, C.M., Nature 449, 885 (2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
58.Kempa, T.J., Tian, B., Kim, D.R., Hu, J., Zheng, X., Lieber, C.M., Nano Lett. 8, 3456 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
59.Kelzenberg, M.D., Turner-Evans, D.B., Kayes, B.M., Filler, M.A., Putnam, M.C., Lewis, N.S., Atwater, H.A., Nano Lett. 8, 710 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
60.Kelzenberg, M.D., Boettcher, S.W., Petykiewicz, J.A., Turner-Evans, D.B., Putnam, M.C., Warren, E.L., Spurgeon, J.M., Briggs, R.M., Lewis, N.S., Atwater, H.A., Nat. Mater. 9, 239 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
61.Garnett, E., Yang, P., Nano Lett. 10, 1082 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
62.Han, S.E., Chen, G., Nano Lett. 10, 1012 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
63.Duche, D., Escoubas, L., Simon, J.-J., Torchio, P., Vervisch, W., Flory, F., Appl. Phys. Lett. 92, 193310 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
64.Tumbleston, J.R., Ko, D.H., Samulski, E.T., Lopez, R., Appl. Phys. Lett. 94, 043305 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
65.Tumbleston, J.R., Ko, D.-H., Lopez, R., Samulski, E.T., in Proc. SPIE 7047, 70470S-1-9 (2008).Google Scholar
66.Ko, D.-H., Tumbleston, J.R., Zhang, L., Williams, S., Desimone, J.M., Lopez, R., Samulski, E.T., Nano Lett. 9, 2742 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
67.Tumbleston, J.R., Ko, D.H., Samulski, E.T., Lopez, R., Opt. Express 17, 7670 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
68.Atwater, H.A., Polman, A., Nat. Mater. 9, 205 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
69.Ferry, V.E., Munday, J., Atwater, H.A., Adv. Mater. 22, 4794 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
70.Ferry, V.E., Sweatlock, L.A., Pacifici, D., Atwater, H.A., Nano Lett. 8, 4391 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
71.Stuart, H.R., Hall, D.G., Appl. Phys. Lett. 69, 2327 (1996).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
72.Stuart, H.R., Hall, D.G., Appl. Phys. Lett. 73, 3815 (1998).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
73.Catchpole, K.R., Polman, A., Appl. Phys. Lett. 93, 191113 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
74.Catchpole, K.R., Polman, A., Opt. Express 16, 21793 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
75.Akimov, Y., Koh, W., Plasmonics 5 (2010).Google Scholar
76.Tsai, F.J., Wang, J.Y., Huang, J.J., Kiang, Y.W., Yang, C.C., Opt. Express 18, A207 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
77.Beck, F.J., Polman, A., Catchpole, K.R., J. Appl. Phys. 105, 114310 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
78.Beck, F.J., Mokkapati, S., Polman, A., Catchpole, K.R., Appl. Phys. Lett. 96, 033113 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
79.Pala, R.A., White, J., Barnard, E., Liu, J., Brongersma, M.L., Adv. Mater. 21, 3504 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
80.Pillai, S., Catchpole, K.R., Trupke, T., Green, M.A., J. Appl. Phys. 101, 093105 (2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
81.Schaadt, D.M., Feng, B., Yu, E.T., Appl. Phys. Lett. 86, 063106 (2005).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
82.Derkacs, D., Lim, S.H., Matheu, P., Mar, W., Yu, E.T., Appl. Phys. Lett. 89, 093103 (2006).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
83.Matheu, P., Lim, S.H., Derkacs, D., McPheeters, C., Yu, E.T., Appl. Phys. Lett. 93, 113108 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
84.Derkacs, D., Chen, W.V., Matheu, P.M., Lim, S.H., Yu, P.K.L., Yu, E.T., Appl. Phys. Lett. 93, 091107 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
85.Fahr, S., Rockstuhl, C., Lederer, F., Appl. Phys. Lett. 95, 121105 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
86.Kulkarni, A.P., Noone, K.M., Munechika, K., Guyer, S.R., Ginger, D.S., Nano Lett. 10, 1501 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
87.Rockstuhl, C., Fahr, S., Lederer, F., J. Appl. Phys. 104, 123102 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
88.Ferry, V.E., Verschuuren, M.A., Li, H.B.T., Schropp, R.E.I., Atwater, H.A., Polman, A., Appl. Phys. Lett. 95, 183503 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
89.Catchpole, K.R., Polman, A., Opt. Express 16, 21793 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
90.Mapel, J.K., Singh, M., Baldo, M.A., Celebi, K., Appl. Phys. Lett. 90, 121102 (2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
91.Tvingstedt, K., Persson, N.-K., Inganas, O., Rahachou, A., Zozoulenko, I., Appl. Phys. Lett. 91, 113511 (2007).Google Scholar
92.Heidel, T.D., Mapel, J.K., Singh, M., Celebi, K., Baldo, M.A., Appl. Phys. Lett. 91, 093506 (2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
93.Kang, M.-G., Xu, T., Park, H.J., Luo, X., Guo, L.J., Adv. Funct. Mater. 1 (2010).Google Scholar
94.Kirkengena, M., Bergli, J., Galperin, Y.M., J. Appl. Phys. 102, 093713 (2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
95.Hägglund, C., Zäch, M., Petersson, G., Kasemo, B., Appl. Phys. Lett. 92, 053110 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
96.Hägglund, C., Appel, S., Kasemo, B., Nano. Lett. 10, 3135 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
97.Nakayama, K., Tanabe, K., Atwater, H.A., Appl. Phys. Lett. 93, 121904 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
98.Kume, T., Hayashi, S., Ohkuma, H., Yamamoto, K., Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 34, 6448 (1995).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
99.Westphalen, M., Kreibig, U., Rostalski, J., Lüth, H., Meissner, D., Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 61, 97 (2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
100.Hägglund, C., Zäch, M., Kasemo, B., Appl. Phys. Lett. 92, 013113 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
101.Konda, R.B., Mundle, R., Mustafa, H., Bamiduro, O., Pradhan, A.K., Roy, U.N., Cui, Y., Burger, A., Appl. Phys. Lett. 91, 191111 (2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
102.Wang, J.Y., Tsai, F.J., Huang, J.J., Chen, C.Y., Li, N., Kiang, Y.W., Yang, C.C., Opt. Express 18, 2682 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
103.Peumans, P., Bulovic, V., Forrest, S.R., Appl. Phys. Lett. 76, 2650 (2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
104.Kim, S.-S., Na, S.-I., Jo, J., Kim, D.-Y., Nah, Y.-C., Appl. Phys. Lett. 93, 073307 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
105.Morfa, A.J., Rowlen, K.L., Reilly, T.H., Romero, M.J., Van de Lagemaat, J., Appl. Phys. Lett. 92, 013504 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
106.Lindquist, N.C., Luhman, W.A., Oh, S.-H., Holmes, R.K., Appl. Phys. Lett. 93, 123308 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
107.Shen, H., Bienstman, P., Maes, B., J. Appl. Phys. 106, 073109 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
108.Chen, F.-C., Wu, J.-L., Lee, C.-L., Hong, Y., Kuo, C.-H., Huang, M.H., Appl. Phys. Lett. 95, 013305 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
109.Rand, B.P., Peumans, P., Forrest, S.R., J. Appl. Phys. 96, 7519 (2004).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
110.Fujimori, S., Dinyari, R., Lee, J.-Y., Peumans, P., Nano Lett. (2009).Google Scholar
111.Lee, J.-Y., Peumans, P., Opt. Express 18, 10078 (2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
112.Niggemann, M., Riede, M., Gombert, A., Leo, K., Phys. Status Solidi A 205, 2862 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
113.Peumans, P., Bulovic, V., Forrest, S.R., Appl. Phys. Lett. 76, 2650 (2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
114.Rand, B.P., Li, J., Xue, J., Holmes, R.J., Thompson, M.E., Forrest, S.R., Adv. Mater 17, 2714 (2005).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
115.Hiramoto, M., Fujiwara, H., Yokoyama, M., J. Appl. Phys. 72, 3781 (1992).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
116.Hiramoto, M., Ihara, K., Fukusumi, H., Yokoyama, M., J. Appl. Phys. 78, 7153 (1995).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
117.Pfeiffer, M., Beyer, A., Plonnigs, B., Nollau, A., Fritz, T., Leo, K., Schlettwein, D., Hiller, S., Wohrle, D., Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 63, 83 (2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
118.Drechsel, J., Mannig, B., Kozlowski, F., Pfeiffer, M., Leo, K., Hoppe, H., Appl. Phys. Lett. 86, 244102 (2005).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
119.Walzer, K., Maennig, B., Pfeiffer, M., Leo, K., Chem. Rev. 107, 1233 (2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
120.Gilot, J., Barbu, I., Wienk, M.W., Janssen, R.A., Appl. Phys. Lett. 91, 113520 (2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
121.Kim, J.Y., Kim, S.H., Lee, H.-H., Lee, K., Ma, W., Gong, X., Heeger, A.J., Adv. Mater. 18, 572 (2006).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
122.Roy, A., Park, S.H., Cowan, S., Tong, M.H., Cho, S., Lee, K., Heeger, A.J., Appl. Phys. Lett. 95, 013302 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
123.O’Connor, B., An, K.H., Pipe, K.P., Zhao, Y., Shtein, M., Appl. Phys. Lett. 89, 233502 (2006).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
124.Andersson, V., Huang, D.M., Moule, A.J., Inganas, O., Appl. Phys. Lett. 94, 043302 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
125.Kishino, K., Unlu, M.S., Chyi, J.-I., Reed, J., Arsenault, L., Morkoc, H., IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 27, 2025 (1991).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
126.Agrawal, M., Peumans, P., Opt. Express 16, 5385 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar