Experimental and Simulation Tools for Thin-Film Solar Cells

Experimental and Simulation Tools for Thin-Film Solar Cells
Author(s):    Carmen M. Ruiz; David Duché; Judikaël Le Rouzo
Published:   2016
DOI:             10.1117/3.2244890
eISBN: 9781510603660
Description:

This Spotlight describes the methods used for the optical characterization and design of thin-film solar cells. A description of the cells under study (CdTe, CIGS, CZTS, Perovskite, and organic) is given, followed by coupling experimental and simulation studies in order to improve solar cell performances. A detailed discussion on specific optical tools (ellipsometry, photoluminescence and photoreflectance) is included, and a link between materials and measurements is made by studying the relevant physical principles. Finally, a numerical model is provided that can be used to design the structure of a thin-film solar cell.

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The potential of solar energy is now well established, yet photovoltaic technologies struggle to prevail in the energy landscape. There are problems with both the enhancement of the performances of the cells and the costs. In this context, thinning the different device layers is being envisaged in order to reduce the total costs of solar cells while maintaining their good performance. As the thicknesses of the different layers in a solar cell can be less than 100 nm in some cases, the importance of an optical design becomes critical for achieving competitive performances. Since photovoltaic solar cells are optoelectronic devices, mastering the interaction of light and matter is of utmost importance. Indeed, the behavior of the light in very thin-film layers is completely different than in bulk materials. Furthermore, even if the semiconductor materials used currently in the different technologies are quite good absorbers, the need for improved performances means that integrating photonic structures in the devices are increasingly envisaged. Thus, the photonic concepts must be considered as potential solutions to improve the photonic absorption of thin-film devices.

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