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Nonequilibrium modeling of solar cells : quantum effects at the nanoscale level

Abstract : A fundamental global challenge is to develop an inexpensive, stable and scalable technology for efficiently harvesting solar photon energy and converting it into convenient forms. Photovoltaic energy conversion is attracting great attention such that several generations of solar cells have emerged. The existing types of solar cells roughly fall into two distinct classes: conventional inorganic photovoltaics (IPVs), such as silicon p-n junctions, and excitonic solar cells (XSCs). The mechanistic distinction of IPVs and XSCs results in fundamental differences in their photovoltaic behavior.According to the type of materials used in their structure, excitonic solar cells are classified into two categories: dye-sensitized solar cells (DSC) and organic photovoltaics (OPV) developed in single-layer and bi-layer including planar and bulk hetero--junction configurations. Quantum dot solar cells (QDSC) are another type of solar cells that have a similar configurations to DSCs or OPVs.While understanding the performance of excitonic solar cells has been a central effort of the scientific community for many years, theoretical approaches facilitating the understanding of electron-hole interaction and recombination effects on the cell performance are needed. Semiclassical theories are inefficient tools to treat quantum phenomena in nano-structured solar cells, and on the other hand, due to the Coulomb attraction between the photo generated carriers, the application of standard Non-Equilibrium Green Function (NEGF) formalism presents some difficulties although some specific methods allow to circumvent this problem.In this thesis we develop a new quantum formalism, which is based on quantum scattering theory and on the Lippmann-Schwinger equation, to provide a comprehensive framework for understanding the fundamental processes taking place in the operation of excitonic solar cells. Considering simple two-level models we address important effects such as the short--range and long--range electron--hole Coulomb interaction, the electron--hole recombination, the existence of extra evacuation channels, and the electron--phonon coupling and polaronic bands formation.Here, the two-level excitonic solar cells are considered in the permanent and transitory regimes of charge injection. The molecular photocells where the energy conversion process takes place in a single molecular donor-acceptor complex attached to electrodes are considered as a representative of XSCs in the permanent regime. As an example for the photovoltaic devices in the transitory regime, we consider the bulk hetero--junction organic photovoltaic cells (BHJ OPVs) which are the most common approach to OPVs and consists of mixed donor and acceptor species that form interpenetrating connective networks. In these systems the exciton created by the photon absorption in the donor side must reach first the donor--acceptor interface. From this moment only a transitory regime begins where the charges can be separated and injected in their respective sides.We demonstrate that the charge carrier separation is a complex process that is affected by different parameters, such as the strength of the electron--hole interaction and the non--radiative recombination rate. Furthermore, depending on the cell structure, the electron-hole interaction can normally decrease or abnormally increase the cell efficiency. The proposed model helps to understand the mechanisms of excitonic solar cells, and it can be used to optimize their yield.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, March 20, 2018 - 11:19:08 AM
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  • HAL Id : tel-01738110, version 1




Tahereh Nematiaram. Nonequilibrium modeling of solar cells : quantum effects at the nanoscale level. Optics [physics.optics]. Université Grenoble Alpes; University of Tabriz (République islamique d'Iran), 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017GREAY056⟩. ⟨tel-01738110⟩



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