Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Advisor 1

Joshua M. Pearce

Committee Member 1

Yun Hang Hu

Committee Member 2

Paul L. Bergstrom

Committee Member 3

Stephen Hackney


Solar photovoltaic (PV) devices harvest energy from solar radiation and convert it to electricity. PV technologies, as an alternative to traditional fossil fuels, use clean and renewable energy while minimizing pollution. For decades researchers have been developing thin film solar cells as an important alternatives to the relatively expensive bulk crystal solar cell technology. Among those, hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) solar cells prevails for good efficiency, non-toxic and materially abundant nature. However, a-Si:H thickness must be minimized to prevent light induced degradation, so optical enhancement is necessary. Light manipulation has to be applied and carefully engineered to trap light within the active layer(s) of the cell using an inexpensive processing techniques. Plasmonic nanostructure allows manipulation of light to be fine-tuned at nanoscale by enabling plasmonic induced scattering, near-field effect and supported surface plasmon plariton (SPP). However traditional fabrication techniques for fabricating nanoscale plasmonic structure are expensive and cumbersome. In this research studies have been conducted to explore the inexpensive fabrication technologies. As a result, nanosphere lithography (NSL) is chosen as a masking material to create scalable plasmonic nanoparticles at low cost. With computer aided design and numerical simulation, the physics behind plasmonic resonance and cell performance is revealed and the geometry and parameters of plasmonic nanostructure are optimized. Finally, a proof-of-concept study has been made to show the effective enhancement in a-Si:H using plasmonic nanostructures fabricate with NSL. The research indicates the feasibility of using the proposed method for commercializing plasmonic a-Si:H solar cells.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant award number CBET-1235750.

Chenlong support page.pdf (17 kB)
Acknowledgement of NSF support