Abstract

A semi-analytical model is constructed for single- and multi-junction solar cells. This model incorporates the key performance aspects of practical devices, including nonradiative recombination, photon recycling within a given junction, spontaneous emission coupling between junctions, and non-step-like absorptance and emittance with below-bandgap tail absorption. Four typical planar structures with the combinations of a smooth/textured top surface and an absorbing/reflecting substrate (or backside surface) are investigated, through which the extracted power and four types of fundamental loss mechanisms, transmission, thermalization, spatial-relaxation, and recombination loss are analyzed for both single- and multi-junction solar cells. The below-bandgap tail absorption increases the short-circuit current but decreases the output and open-circuit voltage. Using a straightforward formulism this model provides the initial design parameters and the achievable efficiencies for both single- and multiple-junction solar cells over a wide range of material quality. The achievable efficiency limits calculated using the best reported materials and AM1.5 G one sun for GaAs and Si single-junction solar cells are, respectively, 27.4 and 21.1 for semiconductor slabs with a flat surface and a non-reflecting index-matched absorbing substrate, and 30.8 and 26.4 for semiconductor slabs with a textured surface and an ideal 100 reflecting backside surface. Two important design rules for both single- and multi-junction solar cells are established: i) the optimal junction thickness decreases and the optimal bandgap energy increases when nonradiative recombination increases; and ii) the optimal junction thickness increases and the optimal bandgap energy decreases for higher solar concentrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number123104
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Volume110
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 15 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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