Wave guidance is an important aspect of light trapping in thin film photovoltaics making it important to properly model the effects of loss on the field profiles. This paper derives the full-field solution for electromagnetic wave propagation in a symmetric dielectric slab with finite absorption. The functional form of the eigenvalue equation is identical to the lossless case except the propagation constants take on complex values. Additional loss-guidance and anti-guidance modes appear in the lossy model which do not normally exist in the analogous lossless case. An approximate solution for the longitudinal attenuation coefficient αz is derived from geometric optics and shows excellent agreement with the exact value. Lossy mode propagation is then explored in the context of photovoltaics by modeling a thin film solar cell made of amorphous silicon.
© 2011 Optical Society of America
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