The cost-effectiveness of market-dominating silicon wafer solar cells plays a key role in determining the competiveness of solar energy with other exhaustible energy sources. Reducing the silicon wafer thickness at a minimized efficiency loss represents a mainstream trend in increasing the cost-effectiveness of wafer-based solar cells. In this paper we demonstrate that, using the advanced light trapping strategy with a properly designed nanoparticle architecture, the wafer thickness can be dramatically reduced to only around 1/10 of the current thickness (180 μm) without any solar cell efficiency loss at 18.2%. Nanoparticle integrated ultra-thin solar cells with only 3% of the current wafer thickness can potentially achieve 15.3% efficiency combining the absorption enhancement with the benefit of thinner wafer induced open circuit voltage increase. This represents a 97% material saving with only 15% relative efficiency loss. These results demonstrate the feasibility and prospect of achieving high-efficiency ultra-thin silicon wafer cells with plasmonic light trapping.