Theoretical estimation of optical absorption and photoluminescence in nanostructured silicon; an approach to improve efficiency in nanostructured solar cells
Date of Award
Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MS)
College, School or Department Name
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Anand K Kulkarni
Renewable energy is growing in demand, and thus the the manufacture of solar cells and photovoltaic arrays has advanced dramatically in recent years. This is proved by the fact that the photovoltaic production has doubled every 2 years, increasing by an average of 48% each year since 2002.
Covering the general overview of solar cell working, and its model, this thesis will start with the three generations of photovoltaic solar cell technology, and move to the motivation of dedicating research to nanostructured solar cell. For the current generation solar cells, among several factors, like photon capture, photon reflection, carrier generation by photons, carrier transport and collection, the efficiency also depends on the absorption of photons. The absorption coefficient,α, and its dependence on the wavelength, λ, is of major concern to improve the efficiency. Nano-silicon structures (quantum wells and quantum dots) have a unique advantage compared to bulk and thin film crystalline silicon that multiple direct and indirect band gaps can be realized by appropriate size control of the quantum wells. This enables multiple wavelength photons of the solar spectrum to be absorbed efficiently.
There is limited research on the calculation of absorption coefficient in nano structures of silicon. We present a theoretical approach to calculate the absorption coefficient using quantum mechanical calculations on the interaction of photons with the electrons of the valence band. One model is that the oscillator strength of the direct optical transitions is enhanced by the quantumconfinement effect in Si nanocrystallites. These kinds of quantum wells can be realized in practice in porous silicon. The absorption coefficient shows a peak of 64638.2 cm-1 at = 343 nm at photon energy of ξ = 3.49 eV ( = 355.532 nm). I have shown that a large value of absorption coefficient α comparable to that of bulk silicon is possible in silicon QDs because of carrier confinement. Our results have shown that we can enhance the absorption coefficient by an order of 10, and at the same time a nearly constant absorption coefficient curve over the visible spectrum. The validity of plots is verified by the correlation with experimental photoluminescence plots. A very generic comparison for the efficiency of p-i-n junction solar cell is given for a cell incorporating QDs and sans QDs. The design and fabrication technique is discussed in brief. I have shown that by using QDs in the intrinsic region of a cell, we can improve the efficiency by a factor of 1.865 times. Thus for a solar cell of efficiency of 26% for first generation solar cell, we can improve the efficiency to nearly 48.5% on using QDs.
Nayyar, Jaspreet S., "Theoretical estimation of optical absorption and photoluminescence in nanostructured silicon; an approach to improve efficiency in nanostructured solar cells", Master's Thesis, Michigan Technological University, 2010.