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Voltage matching, \'etendue and ratchet steps in advanced concept solar cells

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posted on 2023-11-30, 18:35 authored by Andreas Pusch, Nicholas J. Ekins Daukes
Many advanced solar cell concepts propose surpassing the Shockley Queisser (SQ) limit by introducing multiple quasi-Fermi level separations that are arranged in series and/or in parallel. Exceeding the SQ limit with any parallel arrangement involves intermediate states that deliver additional charge carriers at, ideally, the same electro-chemical potential as the other elements in the parallel network. This can be thought of as voltage matching individual parallel components and in intermediate band materials is intricately linked to solar concentration and \'etendue mismatch between absorption and emission. Generally, to achieve voltage matching under sub-optimal conditions, an additional degree of freedom in the absorption thresholds of the material through a carrier relaxation or ratchet step is required. We explain why the ideal ratchet step decreases with solar concentration and how it depends on radiative efficiency and emission \'etendue of the individual transitions. For solar cell concepts that use Auger type carrier-carrier interactions or molecular triplet states for energetic up- or down-conversion, ideal bandgap combinations and achievable efficiencies also depend on interaction rates. We show that Auger assisted solar cells suffer more strongly from finite interaction rates than carrier multiplication devices.

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