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21 February 2012 Optical simulation and fabrication of periodic triangular gratings for the enhancement of photovoltaic solar panels
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The solar energy industry strives to produce more and more efficient and yet cost effective photovoltaic (PV) panels. Integration of specific micro/nano optical structures on the top surface of the PV panels is one of the efficient ways to increase their PV performance through enhancing light trapping and in-coupling. In this study, periodic triangular gratings (PTGs) in polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) were numerically simulated and optimized. The goal of this study is to enhance the ability of solar panels to convert maximum obtainable amount of solar energy by improving the optical in-coupling of light to PV material. Initial optical simulation results shown that a flat PV panel (without any enhancing micro-optical structures) exhibits an average incident light power of 0.327 W over a range of the incident light angles between 15º and 90º. Introduction of the PTG allows capturing the incoming sunlight and reflecting it back onto the PV material for a second or more chances for absorption and conversion into electricity. The light trapping and redirection is achieved through the total internal reflection (TIR) phenomenon. Geometry of the PTG was initially optimized with respect to an incident sunlight orientation of 15º, 30º, 45º, 60º, 75º, and 90º. Optical performance of the particular optimized PTGs was analyzed over daylight conditions and several optical parameters, such as average incident power and intensity, were calculated when sunlight orientation angle was changing from 15º to 90º. By adding the PTG optimized for 15º incidents light, an average incident power of 0.342 W was achieved (4.6% improvement of optical performance). Functional PTG prototypes were fabricated with optical surface quality (below 10 nm Ra). The simulation results allow understanding how the overall daytime photovoltaic performance of solar panels can be improved.
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Rajat Dey, Evgueni V. Bordatchev, Mohammed Tauhiduzzaman, and Hugo Reshef "Optical simulation and fabrication of periodic triangular gratings for the enhancement of photovoltaic solar panels", Proc. SPIE 8256, Physics, Simulation, and Photonic Engineering of Photovoltaic Devices, 82561Z (21 February 2012);

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