Analysis of Multijunction Solar Cell Current-Voltage Characteristics in the Presence of Luminescent Coupling

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Luminescent coupling in multijunction solar cells is the phenomenon in which a junction in forward bias radiates photons that are absorbed in and converted to photocurrent by the junction beneath the radiating one. This effect can be significant in modern high-efficiency multijunction cells. We have previously developed a combined measurement and analytical approach to characterize the short-circuit current including the effects of nonlinear coupling in terms of measurable parameters η and α that describe the coupling strength and linearity, respectively. Here, we develop an analytical model for the full current-voltage characteristic V (J) of a multijunction cell in the presence of luminescent coupling, in terms of the η and α parameters. We compare the model with the measured V (J) parameters of GaInP/GaAs two-junction cells that exhibit differing degrees of luminescent coupling, and show that the model well describes the measurements. We then use the model to explore the consequences of luminescent coupling on the operating parameters of an idealized two-junction cell as a function of the top-junction thickness, focusing on the open-circuit voltage, fill factor, and efficiency. The results demonstrate that the strong luminescent coupling can significantly alter the dependence of cell efficiency on junction thickness, and that consequently the well-known optical-thinning design rules must be modified.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number6578065
Pages (from-to)1429-1436
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5200-57795


  • Efficiency
  • luminescent coupling
  • multijunction solar cells
  • optical thinning
  • radiative coupling


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