Crystalline silicon solar cells absorb light in the near infrared only weakly. To utilize also the infrared light of the solar spectrum with energies still greater than the band gap of silicon, the effective path of the light inside the solar cell has to be enhanced. Light paths can be manipulated at the front side as well as at the rear side of a solar cell. For the front side, pyramidal textures that also show anti-reflection properties are widely used. These anti-reflection properties, however, can also be achieved with planar dielectric coatings or nanostructured surfaces. In this case, the path length enhancement can be achieved with rear side structures that are especially optimized for this purpose, thus de-coupling anti-reflection and path-length enhancement functionalities. This de-coupling creates leeway to optimize not only the optical properties but also the electrical properties of the optically active structures, and to realize structures that are compatible with very thin silicon wafers. To this end, this paper investigates two kinds of diffractive rear side structures, both, theoretically and experimentally. First, hexagonal sphere gratings that are produced by a self-organized growth process using spin coating, and second, binary gratings produced via nano-imprint lithography. Both process chains are potentially scalable to large areas. In optical measurements we determined potential photocurrent density gains of over 1 mA/cm2 for 250 μm thick wafers for both structures. Furthermore, we developed a process for contact formation as one key step to fully processed solar cells with diffractive rear side structures.