Resource efficient plasmon-based 2D-photovoltaics with reflective support
Journal article, 2010
For ultrathin (similar to 10 nm) nanocomposite films of plasmonic materials and semiconductors, the absorptance of normal incident light is typically limited to about 50%. However, through addition of a non-absorbing spacer with a highly reflective backside to such films, close to 100% absorptance can be achieved at a targeted wavelength. Here, a simple analytic model useful in the long wavelength limit is presented. It shows that the spectral response can largely be characterized in terms of two wavelengths, associated with the absorber layer itself and the reflective support, respectively. These parameters influence both absorptance peak position and shape. The model is employed to optimize the system towards broadband solar energy conversion, with the spectrally integrated plasmon induced semiconductor absorptance as a figure of merit. Geometries optimized in this regard are then evaluated in full finite element calculations which demonstrate conversion efficiencies of up to 64% of the Shockley-Queisser limit. This is achieved using only the equivalence of about 10 nanometer composite material, comprising Ag and a thin film solar cell layer of a-Si, CuInSe2 or the organic semiconductor MDMO-PPV. A potential for very resource efficient solar energy conversion based on plasmonics is thus demonstrated.