Theoretical efficiency limit for a two-terminal multi-junction "step-cell" using detailed balance method

Sabina Abdul Hadi, Eugene A. Fitzgerald, Ammar Nayfeh

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25 Scopus citations


Here we present detailed balance efficiency limit for a novel two-terminal dual and triple junction "step-cell" under AM 1.5G and AM 0 incident spectrums. The step-cell is a multi-junction (MJ) solar cell in which part of the top cell is removed, exposing some of the bottom cell area to unfiltered incident light, thus increasing bottom cell's photogenerated current. Optical generation of the bottom cell is modeled in two parts: step part, limited by the bottom cell bandgap, and conventional part, additionally limited by the top cell absorption. Our results show that conventionally designed MJ cell with optimized bandgap combination of 1.64 eV/0.96 eV for dual junction and 1.91 eV/1.37 eV/0.93 eV for triple junction has the highest theoretical efficiency limit. However, the step-cell design provides significant efficiency improvement for cells with non-optimum bandgap values. For example, for 1.41 eV ( ∼GaAs)/Si dual junction under AM 1.5G, efficiency limit increases from ∼21% in a conventional design to 38.7% for optimized step-cell. Similar benefits are observed for three-junction step-cell and for AM 0 spectrum studied here. Step-cell relaxes bandgap requirements for efficient MJ solar cells, providing an opportunity for a wider selection of materials and cost reduction.

Original languageBritish English
Article number073104
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number7
StatePublished - 21 Feb 2016


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