Silicon solar cells are the most widely deployed modules owing to their low-cost manufacture, large market, and suitable efficiencies for residential and commercial use. Methods to increase their solar energy collection must be easily integrated into module fabrication. We perform a theoretical and experimental study on the light collection properties of an encapsulant that incorporates a periodic array of air prisms, which overlay the metallic front contacts of silicon solar cells. We show that the light collection efficiency induced by the encapsulant depends on both the shape of the prisms and angle of incidence of incoming light. We elucidate the changes in collection efficiency in terms of the ray paths and reflection mechanisms in the encapsulant. We fabricated the encapsulant from a commercial silicone and studied the change in the external quantum efficiency (EQE) on an encapsulated, standard silicon solar cell. We observe efficiency enhancements, as compared to a uniform encapsulant, over the visible to near infrared region for a range of incident angles. This work demonstrates exactly how a periodic air prism architecture increases light collection, and how it may be designed to maximize light collection over the widest range of incident angles.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics