Topology optimization for light-trapping structure in solar cells

Shuangcheng Yu, Chen Wang, Cheng Sun, Wei Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The limitation associated with the low optical absorption remains to be the main technical barrier that constrains the efficiency of thin-film solar cells in energy conversion. Effective design of light-trapping structure is critical to increase light absorption, which is a highly complex phenomenon governed by several competing physical processes, imposing a number of challenges to topology optimization. This paper presents a general, yet systematic approach exploiting topology optimization for designing highly efficient light-trapping structures. We first demonstrate the proposed approach using genetic algorithm (GA) based non-gradient topology optimization (NGTO), which is robust for achieving highly-efficient designs of slot-waveguide based cells with both low-permittivity and high-permittivity scattering material at single wavelength or over a broad spectrum. The optimized light-trapping structure achieves a broadband absorption efficiency of 48.1 % and more than 3-fold increase over the Yablonovitch limit. The fabrication feasibility of the optimized design is also demonstrated. Next, the gradient topology optimization (GTO) approach for designing light-trapping structure is explored based on the Solid Isotropic Material with Penalization (SIMP) method. Similar designs are obtained through both GA based NGTO and SIMP based GTO, which verifies the validity of both approaches. Insights into the application of both approaches for solving the nanophotonic design problem with optimization nonlinearity are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-382
Number of pages16
JournalStructural and Multidisciplinary Optimization
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Genetic algorithm
  • Light-trapping structure
  • Nanophotonic design
  • SIMP
  • Solar cell
  • Topology optimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Optimization
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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