Simultaneous optical and electrical modeling of plasmonic light trapping in thin-film amorphous silicon photovoltaic devices

Keyur K. Gandhi, Ahmed Nejim, Michail Beliatis, Christopher A. Mills, Simon J. Henley, S. Ravi P. Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Rapid prototyping of photovoltaic (PV) cells requires a method for the simultaneous simulation of the optical and electrical characteristics of the device. The development of nano-material-enabled PV cells only increases the complexity of such simulations. Here, we use a commercial technology computer aided design (TCAD) software, Silvaco Atlas, to design and model plasmonic gold nanoparticles integrated in optoelectronic device models of thin-film amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) PV cells. Upon illumination with incident light, we simulate the optical and electrical properties of the cell simultaneously and use the simulation to produce current–voltage (J − V) and external quantum efficiency plots. Light trapping due to light scattering and localized surface plasmon resonance interactions by the nano particles has resulted in the enhancement of both the optical and electrical properties due to the reduction in the recombination rates in the photoactive layer. We show that the device performance of the modeled plasmonic a-Si:H PV cells depends significantly on the position and size of the gold nano particles,which leads to improvements either in optical properties only, or in both optical and electrical properties. The model provides a route to optimize the device architecture by simultaneously optimizing the optical and electrical characteristics, which leads to a detailed understanding of plasmonic PV cells from a design perspective and offers an advanced tool for rapid device prototyping. © 2015 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)
Original languageEnglish
Article number057007
JournalJournal of Photonics for Energy
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Plasmonic light trapping
  • Optoelectronic device modeling
  • Thin-film photovoltaic cells
  • Finite difference time domain


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