Geometry-driven carrier extraction enhancement in photovoltaic cells based on arrays of subwavelength light funnels
Texturing the front surface of thin film photovoltaic cells with ordered or disordered arrangements of subwavelength structures is beneficial in terms of efficient light harvesting as well as efficient carrier extraction. Previous studies demonstrated efficient broadband absorption of solar radiation with surface arrays of subwavelength inverted cones (light funnels – LFs). In the current work, we use three-dimensional finite-difference time-domain electromagnetic calculations as well as three-dimensional device calculations to examine carrier extraction from photovoltaic cells that are composed of LF arrays on top of underlying substrates. For the selected geometry under examination, we show a broadband absorption enhancement of 14% for the LF photovoltaic cell compared with a cell based on the respective optically optimized nanopillar arrays. However, we show that the nominal power conversion efficiency is 60% higher in the LF cell which is due to the enhancement of both open-circuit voltage and short-circuit current. The higher open-circuit voltage in the LF cell is due to the higher injection of photocarriers, and the higher short-circuit current is a result of the unique LF geometry that supports efficient carrier extraction due to the naturally occurring gradients of the quasi-Fermi levels and minority carrier conductivity that allow for enhanced contact selectivity. We believe that this work paves the way towards a new approach for carrier collection in photonic devices for energy applications.