Resonant nano-antennas for light trapping in plasmonic solar cells

S. Mokkapati, F. J. Beck, R. De Waele, A. Polman, K. R. Catchpole

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We investigate the influence of nanoparticle height on light trapping in thin-film solar cells covered with metal nanoparticles. We show that in taller nanoparticles the scattering cross-section is enhanced by resonant excitation of plasmonic standing waves. Tall nanoparticles have higher coupling efficiency when placed on the illuminated surface of the cell than on the rear of the cell due to their forward scattering nature. One of the major factors affecting the coupling efficiency of these particles is the phase shift of surface plasmon polaritons propagating along the nanoparticle due to reflection from the Ag/Si or Ag/air interface. The high scattering cross-sections of tall nanoparticles on the illuminated surface of the cell could be exploited for efficient light trapping by modifying the coupling efficiency of nanoparticles by engineering this phase shift. We demonstrate that the path length enhancement (with a nanoparticle of height 500 nm) at an incident wavelength of 700 nm can be increased from ∼6 to ∼16 by modifying the phase shift at the Ag/air interface by coating the surface of the nanoparticle with a layer of Si.

Original languageEnglish
Article number185101
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2011
Externally publishedYes

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