In spite of the fact that solutions to Maxwell’s equations in stratified isotropic optical media are well known, it appears that an explicit expression of the Poynting vector flux spatial evolution inside such a medium has not been derived so far. Based on exact electromagnetic field solutions in the transfer-matrix formalism, I derive such an expression and show that, due to the presence of counterpropagating waves in the medium, an additional contribution to the flux appears that exists only in optically absorbing layers and arises from the interference between these waves. Based on this theory, the concept of incremental absorption is introduced for the calculation of the light absorption profile along the stratification direction. As an illustration of this concept, absorption profiles in a Si-based thin-film tandem solar cell are predicted at typical wavelengths.
© 2011 Optical Society of America
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