Optimization of Photon and Electron Collection Efficiencies in Silicon Solar Microcells for Use in Concentration-Based Photovoltaic Systems

Mikayla A. Yoder, Yuan Yao, Junwen He, Ralph G. Nuzzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Ultrathin silicon solar microcells (μ-cells) afford a means to reduce semiconductor material consumption and can be integrated with concentration optics to improve their power density. A μ-cell design is described that optimizes electron and photon collection with enhanced efficiency for solar concentration applications. An interdigitated back contact (IBC) design improves carrier collection partially due to larger contact coverage while further enabling optimization of the μ-cell front surface. To do so, a silicon nitride antireflection thin film coating is utilized to enhance photon absorption and improve surface passivation. Performance of IBC μ-cells is compared to an optimized top contact design and improves μ-cell conversion efficiencies from 9.9 to 13.7%. Improvements at 1 Sun are amplified under concentration and increase power densities at 20 Suns to 346 from 192 mW cm−2 due to minimized series resistance. Benefits afforded by IBC μ-cells are exemplified following their integration into a dual concentrator system, affording photon collection capacities for direct and diffuse irradiance. A traditional lens concentrates direct light while a luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) collects diffuse photons otherwise not utilized by passive optics. Addition of the LSC increases maximum power densities on clear and cloudy days, providing concentration for the latter and further increasing the power density.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1700169
JournalAdvanced Materials Technologies
Volume2
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Keywords

  • back contact solar cells
  • luminescent solar concentrators
  • series resistance
  • silicon concentrator photovoltaics
  • silicon solar microcells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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