First-principles study of thermodynamic properties in thin-film photovoltaics
This thesis focuses on the theoretical work done to determine thermodynamic properties of a chalcopyrite thin-film material for use as a photovoltaic material in a tandem device. The material of main focus here is ZnGeAs2, which was chosen for the relative abundance of constituents, favorable photovoltaic properties, and good lattice matching with ZnSnP2, the other component in this tandem device. This work is divided into two main chapters, which will cover: calculations and method to determine the formation energy and abundance of native point defects, and a model to calculate the vapor pressure over a ternary material from first-principles. The purpose of this work is to guide experimental work being done in tandem to synthesize ZnGeAs2 in thin-film form with high enough quality such that it can be used as a photovoltaic. Since properties of photovoltaic depend greatly on defect concentrations and film quality, a theoretical understanding of how laboratory conditions affect these properties is very valuable. The work done here is from first-principles and utilizes density functional theory using the local density approximation. Results from the native point defect study show that the zinc vacancy (VZn) and the germanium antisite (GeZn) are the more prominent defects; which most likely produce non-stoichiometric films. The vapor pressure model for a ternary system is validated using known vapor pressure for monatomic and binary test systems. With a valid ternary system vapor pressure model, results show there is a kinetic barrier to decomposition for ZnGeAs2.