Novel volumetric plasmonic resonator architectures for enhanced absorption in thin-film organic solar cells
Sefünç, Mustafa Akın
Demir, Hilmi Volkan
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Please cite this item using this persistent URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/11693/15318
There has been a growing interest in decreasing the cost and/or increasing the efficiency of clean renewable energy resources including those of photovoltaic approaches for conversion of sunlight into electricity. Today, although photovoltaics is considered a potential candidate in diversification of energy sources, the cost of photovoltaic systems remains yet to be reduced by several factors to compete with fossil fuel based energy production. To this end, new generation solar cells are designed to feature very thin layers of active (absorbing) materials in the order of tens of nanometers. Though this approach may possibly decrease the cost of solar cells, these ultra-thin absorbing layers suffer from undesirably low optical absorption of incident photons. Recently revolutionary efforts on increasing light trapping using nanopatterned metal layers in the active photovoltaic material via surface plasmon excitations have been demonstrated, which attracted interest of the academic community as well as the industry. In these prior studies, plasmonic structures, placed either on the top or at the bottom of absorbing layers, have been investigated to enhance the absorption in the active material. However, all these previous efforts were based only on using a single layer of plasmonic structures. In this thesis, different than the previous reports of our group and the others, we focus on a new design concept of volumetric plasmonic resonators that relies on the idea of incorporating two (or more) layers of coupled plasmonic structures embedded in the organic solar cells. For proof-of-concept demonstration, here we embody one silver grating on the top of the absorbing layer and another at the bottom of the active layer to couple them with each other such that the resulting field localization is further increased and extended within the volume of the active material. In addition to individual plasmonic resonances of these metallic structures, this allows us to take the advantage of the vertical interaction in the volumetric resonator. Our computational results show that this architecture exhibits a substantial absorption enhancement performance particularly under the transverse-magnetic polarized illumination, while the optical absorption is maintained at a similar level as the top grating alone under the transverseelectric polarized illumination. As a result, the optical absorption in the active layer is enhanced up to ~67%, surpassing the improvement limit of individual gratings, when the total film thickness is kept fixed. This volumetric interaction contributes to further enhancement of optical absorption in the active layer, beyond the limited photon absorption in non-metallic (bare) organic solar cell.