Synopsys, Inc. (NASDAQ:
SNPS), a world leader in software and IP for semiconductor design, verification
and manufacturing, today announced that the U.S. Department of Energy's National
Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a leading government laboratory pursuing
research in photovoltaic devices, has adopted Synopsys' Sentaurus TCAD for simulating
solar cell characteristics to improve performance.
Photovoltaic technologies play a significant role in the worldwide push for
the development and deployment of renewable sources of energy to reduce carbon
emissions. NREL is at the forefront of these developments through its research
in wind and solar energy. Its many accomplishments include the development and
demonstration of an inverted metamorphic triple-junction solar cell with world-record
efficiency of 40.8 percent. NREL also has research programs in thin-film and
third-generation solar cells. Sentaurus TCAD simulations provide NREL scientists
with valuable insight into the physical mechanisms that drive solar cell performance,
thereby supporting the development of more efficient solar cell designs. The
simulations include the definition of the solar radiation incident on the cell,
its reflection and transmission through anti-reflective coatings and surface
texturing, and the absorption of the light and conversion to electrical current
within semiconductor regions of the cell.
"Solar cells are very complex, with many material layers and design trade-offs
affecting major performance metrics such as efficiency," said Dean Levi,
a principal scientist at NREL. "We view simulation as an important tool
to understand the internal physics of our designs and to point towards ways
to improve them."
NREL has recently implemented Sentaurus TCAD to create polycrystalline thin-film
CuInGaSe2, Cadmium telluride (CdTe), and silicon solar cell models. These models
have illustrated how material properties, grain boundaries, non-uniformity and
interdigitated designs affect both device performance and characterization.
"The photovoltaic industry is experiencing tremendous growth and continues
to drive toward higher efficiency and innovative solar cell designs," said
Howard Ko, general manager and senior vice president of the Silicon Engineering
Group at Synopsys. "Our Sentaurus TCAD tools offer many capabilities to
simulate solar cell operation and performance characteristics to guide design
improvements. Having NREL as a user of our tools enables us to better understand
the challenges and new directions of the fast-changing photovoltaic field."