We report the synthesis and characterization of a polymer thin-film structure consisting of two intersecting broadband optical waveguide lattices, and its performance in wide-angle optical energy collection and conversion in silicon solar cells. The structures are synthetically organized via the concurrent irradiation of photoreactive polymer blends by two arrays of intersecting, microscale optical beams transmitted through the medium. Through optical beam-induced photopolymerization and photopolymerization-induced phase separation, well-organized lattices are produced comprising of cylindrical core-cladding waveguide architectures that intersect one another. The optical waveguide properties of the lattices transform the transmission characteristics of the polymer film so that incident optical energy is collected and transmitted along the waveguide axes, rather than their natural directions dictated by refraction, thereby creating efficient light-collecting capability. The embedded structures collectively impart their wide-angle acceptance ranges to enable the film to efficiently collect and interact with light over a large angular range (±70°). When employed as the encapsulant material for a commercial silicon solar cell, the novel light collection and transmission properties result in greater wide-angle conversion efficiency and electrical current density, compared to a single vertically aligned waveguide array. The sustained and greater conversion of light afforded by the encapsulating optical material promises to increase solar cell performance by enabling ultrawide-angle solar energy conversion.
- solar cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology
- Materials Chemistry
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering