Design and Fabrication of Multiple-Color-Generating Thin-Film Optical Filters for Photovoltaic Applications Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • The use of electric vehicles (EVs) can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, dependency on fossil fuels, and their adverse health effects on humans. But, we can only utilize the full environmental benefits of EVs when they are charged with renewable energy sources with zero or low carbon emissions. As a solution, Mobarak et al. [1] suggested integrating low-cost, flexible, and thin-film copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) solar cells directly onto the steel of all the upward-facing body parts of the vehicles. But, this integration of solar cells comes with an aesthetic drawback. Previously, colorful photovoltaics (PVs) have been designed with one-dimensional (1D) photonic crystals or various 1D and 2D metallic nanostructures for aesthetic building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPVs) [2, 3]. However, the functionality of our application differs from that of BIPV as we need maximum absorption of the solar spectrum to obtain maximum conversion efficiency. Thus, we propose replacing the anti-reflective coating (ARC) present in the solar cells with a notch filter (a narrow high-reflection region in the visible range along with high transmission for the rest of the solar spectrum) to obtain colors. High-performance notch filters with a narrow and ultra-steep notch are well known in literature [4, 5]. Generally, high-performance notch filters are designed with a minimum of 45 layers. It is challenging to use filters with many layers on solar cells due to fabrication and thickness complexities. Thus, we created designs with a maximum of 27 layers for possible integration with photovoltaics. We used OptiLayer [6] to simulate our designs and the gradual evolution technique was used to optimize the designs. We performed our simulations with a multilayer structure of alternating high and low refractive indices of 2.09 and 1.45, respectively, on top of a silicon substrate. We optimized this multilayer structure for three reference wavelengths (400 nm, 550 nm, and 700 nm) resembling three colors. Our designs have notch widths of less than 100 nm for all the reference wavelengths with an average of 70% reflection in the high-reflection region and less than 20% reflection in the high-transmission area. To fabricate our designs, we need materials that are transparent to the solar spectrum targeted by the active material of the solar cells. The materials also need to have refractive indices closer to our simulation. Thus, we chose the combination of silicon nitride and silicon dioxide as our high and low refractive index material, respectively [7, 8]. To better understand our designs’ optical characteristics, we fabricated a scaled-down version of our structure with 5-10 layers. We used electron cyclotron resonance plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (ECR-PECVD) to deposit the multilayer structure on silicon wafers. To obtain the silicon nitride and silicon dioxide layers, we used a SiH4/N2/O2/Ar precursor mixture. By tuning the gas flow rate in the reactor chamber, we tuned the stoichiometry and obtained the required refractive index for each layer. To characterize the refractive index and thickness for each layer, we used variable angle spectroscopic ellipsometry (VASE). We made a detailed comparison of our simulation and fabrication results. References [1] M. H. Mobarak, R. N. Kleiman, J. Bauman, Solar-charged electric vehicles: A comprehensive analysis of grid, driver, and environmental benefits, IEEE Transactions on Transportation Electrification 7 (2021) 579–603. doi:10.1109/TTE.2020.2996363. [2] G. Y. Yoo, et al., Multiple-color-generating cu(in,ga)(s,se)2 thin-film solar cells via dichroic film incorporation for power-generating window applications, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 9 (2017) 14817–14826. doi:10.1021/acsami.7b01416, pMID: 28406026. [3] K. T. Lee, et al., Colored dual-functional photovoltaic cells, Journal of Optics 18 (2016) 064003. [4] U. Schallenberg, et al., Design and manufacturing of high-performance notch filters, volume 7739, International Society for Optics and Photonics, SPIE, 2010, pp. 720 – 728. doi:10.1117/12.856580. [5] J. Zhang, et al., Design and fabrication of ultra-steep notch filters, Opt. Express 21 (2013) 21523–21529. doi:10.1364/OE.21.021523. [6] OptiLayer, 1994. URL: https://www.optilayer.com/support/faq, accessed: 2021-12-06. [7] A. Z. Subramanian, et al., Low-loss singlemode pecvd silicon nitride photonic wire waveguides for 532–900 nm wavelength window fabricated within a cmos pilot line, IEEE Photonics Journal 5 (2013) 2202809–2202809. doi:10.1109/JPHOT.2013.2292698. [8] W. D. Sacher, et al., Visible-light silicon nitride waveguide devices and implantable neurophotonic probes on thinned 200 mm silicon wafers, Opt. Express 27 (2019) 37400–37418. doi:10.1364/OE.27.037400

publication date

  • July 7, 2022