Study of CdTe/MgxCd1-xTe double heterostructures and their application in high efficiency solar cells and in luminescence refrigeration

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CdTe/MgxCd1-xTe double heterostructures (DHs) have been grown on lattice matched InSb (001) substrates using Molecular Beam Epitaxy. The MgxCd1-xTe layers, which have a wider bandgap and type-I band edge alignment

CdTe/MgxCd1-xTe double heterostructures (DHs) have been grown on lattice matched InSb (001) substrates using Molecular Beam Epitaxy. The MgxCd1-xTe layers, which have a wider bandgap and type-I band edge alignment with CdTe, provide sufficient carrier confinement to CdTe, so that the optical properties of CdTe can be studied. The DH samples show very strong Photoluminescence (PL) intensity, long carrier lifetimes (up to 3.6 μs) and low effective interface recombination velocity at the CdTe/MgxCd1 xTe heterointerface (~1 cm/s), indicating the high material quality. Indium has been attempted as an n-type dopant in CdTe and it is found that the carriers are 100% ionized in the doping range of 1×1016 cm-3 to 1×1018 cm-3. With decent doping levels, long minority carrier lifetime, and almost perfect surface passivation by the MgxCd1-xTe layer, the CdTe/MgxCd1-xTe DHs are applied to high efficiency CdTe solar cells. Monocrystalline CdTe solar cells with efficiency of 17.0% and a record breaking open circuit voltage of 1.096 V have been demonstrated in our group.

Mg0.13Cd0.87Te (1.7 eV), also with high material quality, has been proposed as a current matching cell to Si (1.1 eV) solar cells, which could potentially enable a tandem solar cell with high efficiency and thus lower the electricity cost. The properties of Mg0.13Cd0.87Te/Mg0.5Cd0.5Te DHs and solar cells have been investigated. Carrier lifetime as long as 0.56 μs is observed and a solar cell with 11.2% efficiency and open circuit voltage of 1.176 V is demonstrated.

The CdTe/MgxCd1-xTe DHs could also be potentially applied to luminescence refrigeration, which could be used in vibration-free space applications. Both external luminescence quantum efficiency and excitation-dependent PL measurement show that the best quality samples are almost 100% dominated by radiative recombination, and calculation shows that the internal quantum efficiency can be as high as 99.7% at the optimal injection level (1017 cm-3). External luminescence quantum efficiency of over 98% can be realized for luminescence refrigeration with the proper design of optical structures.