Scanning probe microscopy study of thin film solar cells




Li, Huan, Ph. D.

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Thin film solar cells, such as CdTe, CuIn [subscript x] Ga [subscript 1-x] Se₂ (CIGS), Cu₂ZnSnS₄ (CZTS) and Cu₂ZnSnSe₄ (CZTSe), have been intensively studied for their unique features and excellent prospect of mass production in industry. The p-n junction is the most critical part of the thin film solar cell and greatly influences the performance. In this thesis work, the p-n junctions and the device layers of multiple kinds of thin film solar cells have been studied by using scanning probe microscopy based techniques. The scanning spreading resistance microscopy (SSRM) has been developed on the cross-section of CdTe solar cells to study the resistance and carrier concentration distribution in different layers of the device. The CdTe sample was cleaved and milled with the argon ion beam to get a flat cross-section. The multiple device layers of the device were identified by the resistance mapping. A high-resistance region around the junction on the CdTe side due to carrier depletion was measured. With the AFM laser illumination, the resistance in the deep depletion region dropped and the resistance across the entire CdTe layer became relatively uniform due to domination of photo-excited carriers. With carriers injected by applying a forward-bias voltage to the working device, the resistance in the deep depletion region decreased and the region moved toward the CdS/CdTe interface. These observed trends and observations are consistent with device physics. We also measured the surface potential and the electric field across the junction using scanning Kelvin probe force microscopy (SKPFM) in the cross-section of the standard CIGS, ZnS(O,OH)/CIGS and the standard CZTSe devices. Both the heterojunction and homojunction situations of the three solar cells were simulated using the PC1D software. The simulation results were compared with the experimental results to analyze the properties of the junction. The comparison results provided the possible ranges of the thickness and carrier concentration of n-CIGS/n-CZTSe layer.




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