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Thickness Dependence of Plasmonic Charge Carrier Generation in Ultrathin a-Si:H Layers for Solar Cells

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Department of Applied Physics, Chalmers University of Technology, SE-412 96 Göteborg, Sweden
Address correspondence to [email protected]
Cite this: ACS Nano 2011, 5, 8, 6218–6225
Publication Date (Web):July 6, 2011
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society

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    Nanocomposite layers of Ag nanoparticles and a-Si:H film constitute attractive candidates for the realization of ultrathin “two-dimensional” plasmonic solar cells, with an ideal 18% efficiency predicted for an average layer thickness of only 20 nm. By combining optical spectroscopy with photoconductivity measurements, we here characterize different contributions to the light absorption and charge carrier generation in such nanocomposites. We focus in particular on the important role of the absorber layer thickness for these processes, by studying a range of a-Si:H thicknesses from 9 to 67 nm. Through detailed comparison with numerical calculations by the finite element method, observed experimental features are connected to specific resonance modes and charge carrier generation mechanisms. The influence of dipolar and quadrupolar near-field distributions are evaluated with respect to different figures of merit for plasmonic solar cells. We briefly discuss how the present findings may be implemented in practical solar cell configurations.

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    Description of the experimental procedures and calculations, optical characterization of the a-Si:H films. This material is available free of charge via the Internet at

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