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Journal of Photonics for Energy

Enhancement of photovoltaic cell performance using periodic triangular gratings
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Paper Abstract

The solar energy industry strives to produce more efficient and yet cost effective solar panels each consisting of an array of photovoltaic (PV) cells. The goal of this study was to enhance the performance of PV cells through increasing the cells’ optical efficiency defined as a percentage of surface incident light that reaches the PV material. This was achieved through the reduction of waveguide decoupling loss and Fresnel reflection losses by integrating specific nonimaging micro-optical structures on the top surface of existing PV cells. Due to this integration, optical efficiency and performance were increased through the enhancement of light trapping, light guiding, and in-coupling functionalities. Periodic triangular gratings (PTGs) were designed, nonsequentially modeled, optimized, and fabricated in polydimethylsiloxane as proposed micro-optical structures. Then the performance of PV cells with and without integrated PTGs was evaluated and compared. Initial optical simulation results show that an original PV cell (without PTG) exhibits an average optical efficiency of 32.7% over a range of incident light angles between 15 and 90 deg. Integration of the PTG allows the capture of incoming sunlight by total internal reflection (TIR), whence it is reflected back onto the PV cell for multiple consecutive chances for absorption and PV conversion. Geometry of the PTG was optimized with respect to an angle of light incidence of {15, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90} deg. Optical efficiency of the geometrically optimized PTGs was then analyzed under the same set of incident light angles and a maximum optical efficiency of 54.1% was observed for a PV cell with integrated PTG optimized at 90 deg. This is a 53.3% relative improvement in optical performance when compared to an original PV cell. Functional PTG prototypes were then fabricated with optical surface quality (below 10 nm Ra ) and integrated with PV cells demonstrating an increase in maximum power by 1.08  mW/cm2 (7.6% improvement in PV performance) and in short circuit current by 2.39  mA/cm2 (6.4% improvement).

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 April 2014
PDF: 19 pages
J. Photon. Energy. 4(1) 044599 doi: 10.1117/1.JPE.4.044599
Published in: Journal of Photonics for Energy Volume 4, Issue 1
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