Nanostructured crystalline silicon is promising for thin photovoltaic devices due to reduced material usage and wafer quality constraint. In this study, a simple and cost-effective method is presented for producing large-area silicon nanowire (SiNW) arrays with various lengths by employing the polystyrene nanosphere lithography and the metal-assisted chemical etching (MACE). The nanowire structure exhibits broadband and omnidirectional antireflection properties, where the lowest AM1.5G-spectrum- weighted reflectance of SiNW arrays is 4.38%, compared to 8.84% of the conventional single layer anti-reflection coating (SLARC). Next, we made SiNW array structures into solar cells and its power efficiency achieved 10.8%. Afterward, the SiNW array solar cells were analyzed by external and internal quantum efficiency measurement which shows the device performance primarily limited by direct and indirect interfacial recombination of charge carriers. We further develop a modeling technique based on three-dimensional (3D) optical and two-dimensional (2D) electrical simulations which are tailored for the nanostructured silicon photovoltaic devices. The optical simulation employs a rigorous couple wave analysis (RCWA) technique to calculate the distribution of electromagnetic field in order to obtain the generation rate within the nanostructure. Next, an electrical calculation is based on a 2D self-consistent drift-diffusion and Poisson solver using a finite element method (FEM). We investigate the influence to the device performance of carrier diffusion length with three different structures. The simulation results show that a short diffusion length does not seriously deteriorate the short-circuit current density and power conversion efficiency of a core-shell PN junction solar cell compared to the conventional planar structure. Our work suggests that SiNW solar cells can achieve efficient light harvesting and photoelectric conversion with less and lower-grade materials than the conventional technology, which is promising for thin silicon photovoltaics.