Light trapping is of very high importance for silicon photovoltaics (PV) and especially for thin-film silicon solar cells. In this paper we investigate and compare theoretically the light trapping properties of periodic and stochastic structures having similar geometrical features. The theoretical investigations are based on the actual surface geometry of a scattering structure, characterized by an atomic force microscope. This structure is used for light trapping in thin-film microcrystalline silicon solar cells. Very good agreement is found in a first comparison between simulation and experimental results. The geometrical parameters of the stochastic structure are varied and it is found that the light trapping mainly depends on the aspect ratio (length/height). Furthermore, the maximum possible light trapping with this kind of stochastic structure geometry is investigated. In a second step, the stochastic structure is analysed and typical geometrical features are extracted, which are then arranged in a periodic structure. Investigating the light trapping properties of the periodic structure, we find that it performs very similar to the stochastic structure, in agreement with reports in literature. From the obtained results we conclude that a potential advantage of periodic structures for PV applications will very likely not be found in the absorption enhancement in the solar cell material. However, uniformity and higher definition in production of these structures can lead to potential improvements concerning electrical characteristics and parasitic absorption, e.g. in a back reflector
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