Optimization approach for optical absorption in three-dimensional structures including solar cells

Benjamin J. Civiletti, Tom H. Anderson, Faiz Ahmad, Peter B. Monk, Akhlesh Lakhtakia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The rigorous coupled-wave approach (RCWA) and the differential evolution algorithm (DEA) were coupled in a practicable approach to maximize absorption in optical structures with three-dimensional morphology. As a model problem, optimal values of four geometric parameters and the bandgaps of three i-layers were found for an amorphous-silicon, multiterminal, thin-film tandem solar cell comprising three p - i - n junctions with a metallic hexagonally corrugated backreflector. When the optical short-circuit current density was chosen as the figure of merit to be maximized, only the bandgap of the topmost i-layer was significant and the remaining six parameters played minor roles. While this configuration would absorb light very well, it would have poor electrical performance. This issue arises because the optimization problem allows for the thicknesses and bandgaps of the semiconductor layers to change. We therefore devised another figure of merit that takes into account bandgap changes by estimating the open-circuit voltage. The resulting configuration was found to be optimal with respect to all seven variable parameters. The RCWA + DEA optimization approach is applicable to other types of photovoltaic solar cells as well as optical absorbers, with the choice of the figure of merit being vital to a successful outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number057101
JournalOptical Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Engineering(all)


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