Back surface studies of Cu(In,Ga)Se2 thin film solar cells

Simchi, Hamed
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University of Delaware
Cu(In,Ga)Se2 thin film solar cells have attracted a lot of interest because they have shown the highest achieved efficiency (21%) among thin film photovoltaic materials, long-term stability, and straightforward optical bandgap engineering by changing relative amounts of present elements in the alloy. Still, there are several opportunities to further improve the performance of the Cu(In,Ga)Se 2 devices. The interfaces between layers significantly affect the device performance, and knowledge of their chemical and electronic structures is essential in identifying performance limiting factors. The main goal of this research is to understand the characteristics of the Cu(In,Ga)Se 2 -back contact interface in order to design ohmic back contacts for Cu(In,Ga)Se2 -based solar cells with a range of band gaps and device configurations. The focus is on developing either an opaque or transparent ohmic back contact via surface modification or introduction of buffer layers in the back surface. In this project, candidate back contact materials have been identified based on modeling of band alignments and surface chemical properties of the absorber layer and back contact. For the first time, MoO3 and WO 3 transparent back contacts were successfully developed for Cu(In,Ga)Se 2 solar cells. The structural, optical, and surface properties of MoO 3 and WO3 were optimized by controlling the oxygen partial pressure during reactive sputtering and post-deposition annealing. Valence band edge energies were also obtained by analysis of the XPS spectra and used to characterize the interface band offsets. As a result, it became possible to illuminate of the device from the back, resulting in a recently developed "backwall superstrate" device structure that outperforms conventional substrate Cu(In,Ga)Se2 devices in the absorber thickness range 0.1-0.5 μm. Further enhancements were achieved by introducing moderate amounts of Ag into the Cu(In,Ga)Se2 lattice during the co-evaporation method resulting in a 9.7% cell (with 0.3 μm thickness) which has the highest efficiency reported for ultrathin CIGS solar cells to date. In addition, sulfized back contacts including ITO-S and MoS 2 are compared. Interface properties of different contact layers with (Ag,Cu)(In,Ga)Se2 absorber layers with various Ga/(Ga+In) and Ag/(Ag+Cu) ratios are discussed based on the XPS analysis and thermodynamics of reactions.