Photonic control over light absorption and emission in photovoltaics
Photovoltaics (PV) is a mature technology that has seen decades of research and technological advances, which resulted in exponential growth of the installed capacity and exponential decline of the price of solar power generation. Two key challenges remain to be overcome to enable large-scale energy supply by PV: i) the further cost-reduction of solar electricity and ii) the integration of PV into our buildings, landscapes, and infrastructure.
In Chapter 1, we outline these two challenges in more detail. We start by investigating the potential of solar energy generation. We continue by quantifying the limits of photovoltaic energy conversion and comparing them to the current record-efficiency solar cells. Then, we discuss the role that photonics can play in PV. We conclude with a motivation to the thesis, discussing the two key challenges listed above.
In the remainder of this thesis, we investigate the photonic control over absorption and emission of light in photovoltaic systems to address these two challenges. In the first part (Chapters 2-4), we provide a fundamental description of nanophotonic structures to control the angular distribution of emission by dipole-like emitters. This has applications in, for example, up- and down-conversion schemes for photovoltaics and luminescent solar concentrators. In the second part (Chapters 5-7), we investigate photonic structures to enhance infrared emission for radiative cooling and surface textures for anti-reflection in silicon solar cells.