Efficient light trapping structures for amorphous hydrogenated silicon (a-Si:H) solar cells have been realized using periodically structured aluminum doped zinc oxide (ZnO:Al) with periods between 390 and 980 nm as a transparent front contact. Atomic force microscopy, optical reflection, and diffraction efficiency measurements were applied to characterize solar cells deposited on such gratings. A simple formula for the threshold wavelength of total internal reflection is derived. Periodic light coupler gratings reduce the reflectance to a value below 10% in the wavelength range of 400–800 nm which is comparable to cells with an optimized statistical texture. Diffraction efficiency measurements and theoretical considerations indicate that a combination of transmission and reflection gratings contribute to the observed reduction of the reflectance.

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