We show that the open circuit voltage (Voc) in hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) solar cells can be described by an analytical energy-barrier-dependent equation, considering thermionic emission as the physical mechanism determining the recombination current. For this purpose, the current-voltage characteristics of two device structures, i.e., a-Si:H(n)/a-Si:H(i)/a-Si:H(p)/AZO p-i-n solar cells with different p-doping concentrations and a-Si:H(n)/a-Si:H(i)/AZO Schottky structures with different intrinsic layer thicknesses, were analyzed in dark and under illumination, respectively. The calculated barrier in the p-i-n devices is consistent with the difference between the work function of the p-layer and the conduction band edge of the i-layer at the interface in thermal equilibrium.

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