• solar cells;
  • quantum dots;
  • intersubband transition

An attractive but challenging technology for high efficiency solar energy conversion is the intermediate band solar cell (IBSC), whose theoretical efficiency limit is 63%, yet which has so far failed to yield high efficiencies in practice. The most advanced IBSC technology is that based on quantum dots (QDs): the QD-IBSC. In this paper, k·p calculations of photon absorption in the QDs are combined with a multi-level detailed balance model. The model has been used to reproduce the measured quantum efficiency of a real QD-IBSC and its temperature dependence. This allows the analysis of individual sub-bandgap transition currents, which has as yet not been possible experimentally, yielding a deeper understanding of the failure of current QD-IBSCs. Based on the agreement with experimental data, the model is believed to be realistic enough to evaluate future QD-IBSC proposals.