Diffraction: Enhanced Light Absorption of Solar Cells and Photodetectors

Technology Summary

The solar and photovoltaic industry has grown steadily over the last several years.  In order to maintain these growth rates, the processes and methods need to be continuously improved.  Sandia National Laboratories has created a method for enhanced light absorption of solar cells and photodetectors in a narrowband or wideband spectral absorption. 


Enhanced absorption is achieved by utilizing a front-surface grating structure on the surface of the solar cell or photodetector.  This generates high diffraction order when light is present.  The majority of the light energy is then distributed into higher diffraction orders and absorption is increased. 


  • Improved performance of thin-film solar cells, space solar cells, and wavelength selective photodetectors
  • Enhanced light absorption of solar cells and photodetectors by diffraction
  • Improves light absorption without affecting the surface passivation

Applications and Industries

  • Solar and Renewable Energy
  • Photovoltaic
  • Thin-film Solar Cells
  • Space Solar Cells
  • Polarization-Dependent Photodetectors

Intellectual Property

ID Number
Patent Number
Enhanced light absorption of solar cells and photodetectors by diffraction 6402.0 6,858,462 02/22/2005
Technology IDUS Patent# 6,858,462Development StagePrototype - Sandia estimates this technology at approximately TRL 5. Key elements have been demonstrated in relevant environments. AvailabilityAvailable - Various licensing and partnering options are available. Please contact the Intellectual Property Department to discuss.Published10/04/2011Last Updated02/29/2016