Equivalent Performance in Three-Terminal and Four-Terminal Tandem Solar Cells

Adele Tamboli, Emily Warren, John Geisz, Pauls Stradins, Michael Rienacker, Robby Peibst, Manuel Schnabel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus Citations


Tandem or multijunction solar cells are a promising method to circumvent the efficiency limit of single-junction solar cells, but there is ongoing debate over how best to interconnect the subcells in a tandem cell. In addition to four-terminal and two-terminal tandem cell architectures, a new three-terminal tandem cell architecture has recently been demonstrated, which features a standard two-terminal (front-back) circuit as well as an interdigitated back contact (IBC) circuit connected to the bottom cell. It has no middle contacts, and thus, maintains some of the simplicity of a two-terminal tandem. In this study, we measure four-terminal GaInP//Si and GaInP/GaAs//Si tandem cells in four-terminal and three-terminal configurations by connecting wires to mimic a three-terminal architecture. We demonstrate that both modes allow the same efficiencies exceeding 30% to be attained. Furthermore, we show that the IBC circuit not only collects excess power from the bottom cell, but that it can inject power into the bottom cell if it is current limiting the front-back circuit, enabling four-terminal performance in monolithic structures, regardless of which cell delivers less current.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number8454791
Pages (from-to)1584-1589
Number of pages6
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-71601


  • Absorption
  • III-V semiconductor materials
  • photovoltaic Cells
  • Silicon


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