Abstract

The rigorous coupled-wave approach (RCWA) is extensively used to compute optical absorption and photon absorption in thin-film photovoltaic solar cells backed by 1D metallic gratings when the wave vector of the incident light lies wholly in the grating plane. The RCWA algorithm converges rapidly for incident s-polarized light over the entire 400–1100 nm solar spectrum. It also performs well for incident p-polarized light in the 400–650 nm spectral regime, but even with a large number of Floquet harmonics in the solution, the total reflectance is underestimated in the 650–1100 nm spectral regime. Despite that shortcoming, the RCWA underestimates the solar-spectrum-integrated photon absorption rate only by 5%–10% for p-polarized light. As sunlight is almost unpolarized, the RCWA should be considered adequate to design thin-film silicon solar cells with periodically corrugated metallic backreflectors.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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