Building Simulation

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 41–49 | Cite as

Design and optical characterisation of an efficient light trapping structure for dye-sensitized solar cell integrated windows

  • Andrew Knott
  • Xiao Liu
  • Oleg Makarovskiy
  • James O’Shea
  • Chris Tuck
  • Yupeng WuEmail author
Open Access
Research Article Building Thermal, Lighting, and Acoustics Modeling


Windows integrated with semi-transparent photovoltaics (PVs) such as Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSCs) show good potential in improving building performance, in terms of providing daylight, reducing unnecessary solar heat gain and also generating electricity onsite. However, low cell efficiency remains an obstacle for their applications in windows. Using light trapping structures in DSSCs shows the potential to improve solar to electrical conversion efficiency. In this work, different pyramid-patterned titanium dioxide (TiO2) geometries are designed to enhance the photon absorption in DSSCs, and characterised using a Monte-Carlo algorithm based 3D ray-tracing simulation. Various studies were carried out under average irradiation, spectrum dependent irradiation and different solar incidental angles, respectively. The simulation results at the average irradiation wavelength (540 nm) were compared to those from a previous study using Scanning Photocurrent Microscopy (SPCM) and a reasonable agreement has been achieved. It was found that the structure based on the pyramid array of side wall angle 54.7° can significantly enhance light absorption by up to ~25% and the maximum achievable photocurrent density (MAPD) by up to ~45% across the spectrum of 380–800 nm, when compared to a planar control counterpart.


light trapping ray-tracing pyramid pattern MAPD wavelength 



This work was supported by the School of Physics and Astronomy and Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham through a joint PhD studentship awarded to Andrew Knott.


  1. Ball JM, Stranks SD, Hörantner MT, Hüttner S, Zhang W, Crossland EJW, Ramirez I, Riede M, Hohnston MB, Friend RH, Snaith HJ (2015). Optical properties and limiting photocurrent of thin-film perovskite solar cells. Energy & Environmental Science, 8: 602–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bouvard O, Vanzo S, Schüler A (2015). Experimental determination of optical and thermal properties of semi-transparent photovoltaic modules based on dye-sensitized solar cells. Energy Procedia, 78: 453–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cannavale A, Hörantner M, Eperon GE, Snaith HJ, Fiorito f, Ayr U, Martellotta F (2017). Building integration of semitransparent perovskite-based solar cells: Energy performance and visual comfort assessment. Applied Energy, 194: 94–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Casini M (2016). Smart Buildings: Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology to Improve Energy-Efficiency and Environmental Performance. Duxford UK: Woodhead Publishing.Google Scholar
  5. Chen K-S, Salinas J-F, Yip H-L, Huo L, Hou J, Jen AK-Y (2012). Semi-transparent polymer solar cells with 6% PCE, 25% average visible transmittance and a color rendering index close to 100 for power generating window applications. Energy & Environmental Science, 5: 9551–9557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cho C, Kim H, Jeong S, Baek S-W, Seo J-W, Han D, Kim K, Park Y, Yoo S, Lee J-Y (2013). Random and V-groove texturing for efficient light trapping in organic photovoltaic cells. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 115: 36–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dabirian A, Taghavinia N (2015). Theoretical study of light trapping in nanostructured thin film solar cells using wavelength-scale silver particles. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 7: 14926–14932.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fakharuddin A, Jose R, Brown TM, Fabregat-Santiago F, Bisquert J (2014). A perspective on the production of dye-sensitized solar modules. Energy & Environmental Science, 7: 3952–3981.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Foster S, John S (2013). Light-trapping in dye-sensitized solar cells. Energy & Environmental Science, 6: 2972–2983.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gagliardi S, Falconieri M (2015). Experimental determination of the light-trapping-induced absorption enhancement factor in DSSC photoanodes. Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology, 6: 886–892.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gong J, Sumathy K, Qiao Q, Zhou Z (2017). Review on dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs): Advanced techniques and research trends. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 68: 234–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Grätzel M (2003). Dye-sensitized solar cells. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology C: Photochemistry Reviews, 4: 145–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ito S, Murakami TN, Comte P, Liska P, Grätzel C, Nazeeruddin MK, Grätzel M (2008). Fabrication of thin film dye sensitized solar cells with solar to electric power conversion efficiency over 10%. Thin Solid Films, 516: 4613–4619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ito S, Takahashi K, Yusa S-I, Saito M, Shigetomi T (2013). Ultradurable dye-sensitized solar cells under 120°C using cross-linkage dye and ionic-liquid electrolyte. International Journal of Photoenergy, 2013: 501868.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kang MG, Park N-G, Park YJ, Ryu KS, Chang SH (2003). Manufacturing method for transparent electric windows using dye-sensitized TiO2 solar cells. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 75: 475–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kim J, Koh JK, Kim B, Kim JH, Kim E (2012). Nanopatterning of mesoporous inorganic oxide films for efficient light harvesting of dye-sensitized solar cells. Angewandte Chemie, 124: 6970–6975.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Knott A, Makarovskiy O, O’Shea J, Wu Y, Tuck C (2018). Scanning photocurrent microscopy of 3D printed light trapping structures in dye-sensitized solar cells. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 180: 103–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kozma IZ, Krok P, Riedle E (2005). Direct measurement of the group-velocity mismatch and derivation of the refractive-index dispersion for a variety of solvents in the ultraviolet. Journal of the Optical Society of America B, 22: 1479–1485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lee HM, Yoon JH (2018). Power performance analysis of a transparent DSSC BIPV window based on 2 year measurement data in a full-scale mock-up. Applied Energy, 225: 1013–1021.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lee JW, Park J, Jung H-J (2014). A feasibility study on a building’s window system based on dye-sensitized solar cells. Energy and Buildings, 81: 38–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Moutzouris K, Papamichael M, Betsis SC, Stavrakas I, Hloupis G, Triantis D (2014). Refractive, dispersive and thermo-optic properties of twelve organic solvents in the visible and near-infrared. Applied Physics B, 116: 617–622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Skandalos N, Karamanis D (2015). PV glazing technologies. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 49: 306–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Takeda Y, Kato N, Higuchi K, Takeichi A, Motohiro T, Fukumoto S, Sano T, Toyoda T (2009). Monolithically series-interconnected transparent modules of dye-sensitized solar cells. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 93: 808–811.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wang F, Subbaiyan NK, Wang Q, Rochford C, Xu G, Lu R, Elliot A, D’Souza F, Hui R, Wu J (2012). Development of nanopatterned fluorine-doped tin oxide electrodes for dye-sensitized solar cells with improved light trapping. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 4: 1565–1572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Wenger S, Schmid M, Rothenberger G, Gentsch A, Gratzel M, Schumacher JO (2011). Coupled optical and electronic modeling of dye-sensitized solar cells for steady-state parameter extraction. The Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 115: 10218–10229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wooh S, Yoon H, Jung JH, Lee YG, Koh JH, Lee B, Kang YS, Char K (2013). Efficient light harvesting with micropatterned 3D pyramidal photoanodes in dye-sensitized solar cells. Advanced Materials, 25: 3111–3116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Yun MJ, Sim YH, Cha SI, Seo SH, Lee DY (2017). High energy conversion efficiency with 3-D micro-patterned photoanode for enhancement diffusivity and modification of photon distribution in dye-sensitized solar cells. Scientific Reports, 7: 15027.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Zhang X, Liu H, Huang X, Jiang H (2015). One-step femtosecond laser patterning of light-trapping structure on dye-sensitized solar cell photoelectrodes. Journal of Materials Chemistry C, 3: 3336–3341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Knott
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiao Liu
    • 2
  • Oleg Makarovskiy
    • 1
  • James O’Shea
    • 1
  • Chris Tuck
    • 2
  • Yupeng Wu
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Physics and AstronomyThe University of NottinghamLodonUK
  2. 2.Faculty of EngineeringThe University of NottinghamLodonUK

Personalised recommendations