As existing solar cell technologies come closer to their theoretical efficiency, new concepts that overcome the Shockley-Queisser limit and exceed 50% efficiency need to be explored. New materials systems are often investigated to achieve this, but the use of existing solar cell materials in advanced concept approaches is compelling for multiple theoretical and practical reasons. In order to include advanced concept approaches into existing materials, nanostructures are used as they alter the physical properties of these materials. To explore advanced nanostructured concepts with existing materials such as III-V alloys, silicon and/or silicon/germanium and associated alloys, fundamental aspects of using these materials in advanced concept nanostructured solar cells must be understood. Chief among these is the determination and predication of optimum electronic band structures, including effects such as strain on the band structure, and the material's opto-electronic properties. Nanostructures have a large impact on band structure and electronic properties through quantum confinement. An additional large effect is the change in band structure due to elastic strain caused by lattice mismatch between the barrier and nanostructured (usually self-assembled QDs) materials. To develop a material model for advanced concept solar cells, the band structure is calculated for single as well as vertical array of quantum dots with the realistic effects such as strain, associated with the epitaxial growth of these materials. The results show significant effect of strain in band structure. More importantly, the band diagram of a vertical array of QDs with different spacer layer thickness show significant change in band offsets, especially for heavy and light hole valence bands when the spacer layer thickness is reduced. These results, ultimately, have significance to develop a material model for advance concept solar cells that use the QD nanostructures as absorbing medium. The band structure calculations serve as the basis for multiple other calculations. Chief among these is that the model allows the design of a practical QD advanced concept solar cell, which meets key design criteria such as a negligible valence band offset between the QD/barrier materials and close to optimum band gaps, resulting in the predication of optimum material combinations.
- Advanced nanostructured concepts in solar cells using III-V and silicon-based materials
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Som Nath Dahal