Combined optical-electrical finite-element simulations of thin-film solar cells - Preliminary results

Tom H. Anderson, Muhammad Faryad, Tom G. Mackay, Akhlesh Lakhtakia, Rajendra Singh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


A two-dimensional finite-element model was developed to simulate both the optical and electrical characteristics of thin-film, p-i-n junction, solar cells. For a preliminary assessment of the model's capabilities, one or more p-i-n junctions were allowed to fill the region between the front and back surfaces; the semiconductor layers were taken to be made from mixtures of three different alloys of hydrogenated amorphous silicon; empirical relationships between the complex-valued relative optical permittivity and the bandgap were used; a transparent-conductingoxide layer was taken to be attached to the front surface of the solar cell; and a metallic reflector, which may be periodically corrugated, was supposed to be attached to the back surface. First the frequency-domain Maxwell postulates were solved in order to determine the absorption of solar photons and the subsequent generation of electron-hole pairs, with the AM1.5G solar spectrum taken to represent the incident solar flux. Next, the drift-diffusion equations were solved to track the evolution of electron and hole densities to a steady state. Preliminary numerical results from our model indicate that by increasing the number of p-i-n junctions from one to three, the solar-cell efficiency may be increased. The efficiency may be further increased by incorporating a periodically-corrugated back reflector, as opposed to a flat back reflector, in the case of a single p-i-n junction solar cell. We plan to apply the two-dimensional finite-element model for more complicated solar cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThin Films for Solar and Energy Technology VII
EditorsLouay A. Eldada, Michael J. Heben
ISBN (Electronic)9781628417272
StatePublished - 2015
EventThin Films for Solar and Energy Technology VII - San Diego, United States
Duration: Aug 9 2015Aug 10 2015

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


OtherThin Films for Solar and Energy Technology VII
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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