Thin, flexible, and invisible solar cells will be a ubiquitous technology in the near future. Ultrathin crystalline silicon (c-Si) cells capitalize on the success of bulk silicon cells while being lightweight and mechanically flexible, but suffer from poor absorption and efficiency. Here we present a new family of surface texturing, based on correlated disordered hyperuniform patterns, capable of efficiently coupling the incident spectrum into the silicon slab optical modes. We experimentally demonstrate 66.5% solar light absorption in free-standing 1 μm c-Si layers by hyperuniform nanostructuring for the spectral range of 400 to 1050 nm. The absorption equivalent photocurrent derived from our measurements is 26.3 mA/cm2, which is far above the highest found in literature for Si of similar thickness. Considering state-of-the-art Si PV technologies, we estimate that the enhanced light trapping can result in a cell efficiency above 15%. The light absorption can potentially be increased up to 33.8 mA/cm2 by incorporating a back-reflector and improved antireflection, for which we estimate a photovoltaic efficiency above 21% for 1 μm thick Si cells.
Disordered photonic nanostructures have attracted tremendous interest in the past three decades, not only due to the fascinating and complex physics of light transport in random media, but also for peculiar functionalities in a wealth of interesting applications. Recently, the interest in dielectric disordered systems has received new inputs by exploiting the role of long-range correlation within scatterer configurations. Hyperuniform photonic materials, that share features of photonic crystals and random systems, constitute the archetype of systems where light transport can be tailored from diffusive transport to a regime dominated by light localization due to the presence of photonic band gap. Here, advantage is taken of the combination of the hyperuniform disordered (HuD) design in slab photonics, the use of embedded quantum dots for feeding the HuD resonances, and near-field hyperspectral imaging with sub-wavelength resolution in the optical range to explore the transition from localization to diffusive transport. It is shown, theoretically and experimentally, that photonic HuD systems support resonances ranging from strongly localized modes to extended modes. It is demonstrated that Anderson-like modes with high Q/V are created, with small footprint, intrinsically reproducible and resilient to fabrication-induced disorder, paving the way for a novel photonic platform for quantum applications.
Hyperuniform disordered photonic materials have recently been shown to display large, complete photonic band gaps and isotropic optical properties, and are emerging as strong candidates for a plethora of optoelectronic applications, making them competitive with many of their periodic and quasiperiodic counterparts. In this work, high quality factor optical cavities in hyperuniform disordered architectures are fabricated through semiconductor slabs and experimentally addressed by scanning near-field optical microscopy. The wide range of confined cavity modes that we detect arise from carefully designed local modifications of the dielectric structure. Previous works on hyperuniform disordered photonic systems have previously identified several Anderson localized states spectrally located at the PBG edges with relatively high quality factors. In this work, by engineering the structural parameters of the cavity, we achieve an experimental quality factor of order 6000 (higher than the one of the Anderson states) and we demonstrate that three types of localized modes of different nature coexist within a small area and in a relatively narrow spectral window of the disordered correlated system. Their compatibility with general boundary constraints, in contrast with ordered architectures that suffer strict layout constraints imposed by photonic crystals' axes orientation, makes optical cavities in disordered hyperuniform patterns a flexible optical insulator platform for planar optical circuits.