Metal Nano-Grids for Transparent Conduction in Solar Cells

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20 Scopus Citations


A general procedure for predicting metal grid performance in solar cells was developed. Unlike transparent conducting oxides (TCOs) or other homogeneous films, metal grids induce more resistance in the neighbor layer. The resulting balance of transmittance, neighbor and grid resistance was explored in light of cheap lithography advances that have enabled metal nano-grid (MNG) fabrication. The patterned MNGs have junction resistances and degradation rates that are more favorable than solution-synthesized metal nanowires. Neighbor series resistance was simulated by the finite element method, although a simpler analytical model was sufficient in most cases. Finite-difference frequency-domain transmittance simulations were performed for MNGs with minimum wire width (w) of 50 nm, but deviations from aperture transmittance were small in magnitude. Depending on the process, MNGs can exhibit increased series resistance as w is decreased. However, numerous experimental reports have already achieved transmittance-MNG sheet resistance trade-offs comparable to TCOs. The transmittance, neighbor and MNG series resistances were used to parameterize a grid fill factor for a solar cell. This new figure of merit was used to demonstrate that although MNGs have only been employed in low efficiency solar cells, substantial gains in performance are predicted for decreased w in all high efficiency absorber technologies.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)68-77
Number of pages10
JournalSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-68990


  • Metal grid
  • Metal nano-grid
  • Series resistance
  • Transmittance
  • Transparent conducting oxide
  • Transparent conduction


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