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The impact of controlled nanopatterning on the Ag back contact of an n-i-p a-Si:H solar cell was investigated experimentally and through electromagnetic simulation. Compared to a similar reference cell with a flat back contact, we demonstrate an efficiency increase from 4.5% to 6.2%, with a 26% increase in short circuit current density. Spectral response measurements show the majority of the improvement between 600 and 800 nm, with no reduction in photocurrent at wavelengths shorter than 600 nm. Optimization of the pattern aspect ratio using electromagnetic simulation predicts absorption enhancements over 50% at 660 nm.