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One-dimensional fast transient simulator for modeling CdS/CdTe solar cells

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Solar energy, including solar heating, solar architecture, solar thermal electricity and solar photovoltaics, is one of the primary energy sources replacing fossil fuels. Being one of the most important techniques, significant research has been conducted in solar cell efficiency improvement.

Solar energy, including solar heating, solar architecture, solar thermal electricity and solar photovoltaics, is one of the primary energy sources replacing fossil fuels. Being one of the most important techniques, significant research has been conducted in solar cell efficiency improvement. Simulation of various structures and materials of solar cells provides a deeper understanding of device operation and ways to improve their efficiency. Over the last two decades, polycrystalline thin-film Cadmium-Sulfide and Cadmium-Telluride (CdS/CdTe) solar cells fabricated on glass substrates have been considered as one of the most promising candidate in the photovoltaic technologies, for their similar efficiency and low costs when compared to traditional silicon-based solar cells. In this work a fast one dimensional time-dependent/steady-state drift-diffusion simulator, accelerated by adaptive non-uniform mesh and automatic time-step control, for modeling solar cells has been developed and has been used to simulate a CdS/CdTe solar cell. These models are used to reproduce transients of carrier transport in response to step-function signals of different bias and varied light intensity. The time-step control models are also used to help convergence in steady-state simulations where constrained material constants, such as carrier lifetimes in the order of nanosecond and carrier mobility in the order of 100 cm2/Vs, must be applied.

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2013

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Novel materials, grid design rule, and characterization methods for multi-junction solar cells

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This dissertation addresses challenges pertaining to multi-junction (MJ) solar cells from material development to device design and characterization. Firstly, among the various methods to improve the energy conversion efficiency of MJ solar cells using, a novel approach proposed recently is

This dissertation addresses challenges pertaining to multi-junction (MJ) solar cells from material development to device design and characterization. Firstly, among the various methods to improve the energy conversion efficiency of MJ solar cells using, a novel approach proposed recently is to use II-VI (MgZnCd)(SeTe) and III-V (AlGaIn)(AsSb) semiconductors lattice-matched on GaSb or InAs substrates for current-matched subcells with minimal defect densities. CdSe/CdTe superlattices are proposed as a potential candidate for a subcell in the MJ solar cell designs using this material system, and therefore the material properties of the superlattices are studied. The high structural qualities of the superlattices are obtained from high resolution X-ray diffraction measurements and cross-sectional transmission electron microscopy images. The effective bandgap energies of the superlattices obtained from the photoluminescence (PL) measurements vary with the layer thicknesses, and are smaller than the bandgap energies of either the constituent material. Furthermore, The PL peak position measured at the steady state exhibits a blue shift that increases with the excess carrier concentration. These results confirm a strong type-II band edge alignment between CdSe and CdTe. The valence band offset between unstrained CdSe and CdTe is determined as 0.63 eV±0.06 eV by fitting the measured PL peak positions using the Kronig-Penney model. The blue shift in PL peak position is found to be primarily caused by the band bending effect based on self-consistent solutions of the Schrödinger and Poisson equations. Secondly, the design of the contact grid layout is studied to maximize the power output and energy conversion efficiency for concentrator solar cells. Because the conventional minimum power loss method used for the contact design is not accurate in determining the series resistance loss, a method of using a distributed series resistance model to maximize the power output is proposed for the contact design. It is found that the junction recombination loss in addition to the series resistance loss and shadowing loss can significantly affect the contact layout. The optimal finger spacing and maximum efficiency calculated by the two methods are close, and the differences are dependent on the series resistance and saturation currents of solar cells. Lastly, the accurate measurements of external quantum efficiency (EQE) are important for the design and development of MJ solar cells. However, the electrical and optical couplings between the subcells have caused EQE measurement artifacts. In order to interpret the measurement artifacts, DC and small signal models are built for the bias condition and the scan of chopped monochromatic light in the EQE measurements. Characterization methods are developed for the device parameters used in the models. The EQE measurement artifacts are found to be caused by the shunt and luminescence coupling effects, and can be minimized using proper voltage and light biases. Novel measurement methods using a pulse voltage bias or a pulse light bias are invented to eliminate the EQE measurement artifacts. These measurement methods are nondestructive and easy to implement. The pulse voltage bias or pulse light bias is superimposed on the conventional DC voltage and light biases, in order to control the operating points of the subcells and counterbalance the effects of shunt and luminescence coupling. The methods are demonstrated for the first time to effectively eliminate the measurement artifacts.

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2012

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Dual-wavelength internal-optically-pumped semiconductor laser diodes

Description

Dual-wavelength laser sources have various existing and potential applications in wavelength division multiplexing, differential techniques in spectroscopy for chemical sensing, multiple-wavelength interferometry, terahertz-wave generation, microelectromechanical systems, and microfluidic lab-on-chip systems. In the drive for ever smaller and increasingly mobile electronic

Dual-wavelength laser sources have various existing and potential applications in wavelength division multiplexing, differential techniques in spectroscopy for chemical sensing, multiple-wavelength interferometry, terahertz-wave generation, microelectromechanical systems, and microfluidic lab-on-chip systems. In the drive for ever smaller and increasingly mobile electronic devices, dual-wavelength coherent light output from a single semiconductor laser diode would enable further advances and deployment of these technologies. The output of conventional laser diodes is however limited to a single wavelength band with a few subsequent lasing modes depending on the device design. This thesis investigates a novel semiconductor laser device design with a single cavity waveguide capable of dual-wavelength laser output with large spectral separation. The novel dual-wavelength semiconductor laser diode uses two shorter- and longer-wavelength active regions that have separate electron and hole quasi-Fermi energy levels and carrier distributions. The shorter-wavelength active region is based on electrical injection as in conventional laser diodes, and the longer-wavelength active region is then pumped optically by the internal optical field of the shorter-wavelength laser mode, resulting in stable dual-wavelength laser emission at two different wavelengths quite far apart. Different designs of the device are studied using a theoretical model developed in this work to describe the internal optical pumping scheme. The carrier transport and separation of the quasi-Fermi distributions are then modeled using a software package that solves Poisson's equation and the continuity equations to simulate semiconductor devices. Three different designs are grown using molecular beam epitaxy, and broad-area-contact laser diodes are processed using conventional methods. The modeling and experimental results of the first generation design indicate that the optical confinement factor of the longer-wavelength active region is a critical element in realizing dual-wavelength laser output. The modeling predicts lower laser thresholds for the second and third generation designs; however, the experimental results of the second and third generation devices confirm challenges related to the epitaxial growth of the structures in eventually demonstrating dual-wavelength laser output.

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2011

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A study of two high efficiency energy conversion processes: semiconductor photovoltaics and semiconductor luminescence refrigeration

Description

As the world energy demand increases, semiconductor devices with high energy conversion efficiency become more and more desirable. The energy conversion consists of two distinct processes, namely energy generation and usage. In this dissertation, novel multi-junction solar cells

As the world energy demand increases, semiconductor devices with high energy conversion efficiency become more and more desirable. The energy conversion consists of two distinct processes, namely energy generation and usage. In this dissertation, novel multi-junction solar cells and light emitting diodes (LEDs) are proposed and studied for high energy conversion efficiency in both processes, respectively. The first half of this dissertation discusses the practically achievable energy conversion efficiency limit of solar cells. Since the demonstration of the Si solar cell in 1954, the performance of solar cells has been improved tremendously and recently reached 41.6% energy conversion efficiency. However, it seems rather challenging to further increase the solar cell efficiency. The state-of-the-art triple junction solar cells are analyzed to help understand the limiting factors. To address these issues, the monolithically integrated II-VI and III-V material system is proposed for solar cell applications. This material system covers the entire solar spectrum with a continuous selection of energy bandgaps and can be grown lattice matched on a GaSb substrate. Moreover, six four-junction solar cells are designed for AM0 and AM1.5D solar spectra based on this material system, and new design rules are proposed. The achievable conversion efficiencies for these designs are calculated using the commercial software package Silvaco with real material parameters. The second half of this dissertation studies the semiconductor luminescence refrigeration, which corresponds to over 100% energy usage efficiency. Although cooling has been realized in rare-earth doped glass by laser pumping, semiconductor based cooling is yet to be realized. In this work, a device structure that monolithically integrates a GaAs hemisphere with an InGaAs/GaAs quantum-well thin slab LED is proposed to realize cooling in semiconductor. The device electrical and optical performance is calculated. The proposed device then is fabricated using nine times photolithography and eight masks. The critical process steps, such as photoresist reflow and dry etch, are simulated to insure successful processing. Optical testing is done with the devices at various laser injection levels and the internal quantum efficiency, external quantum efficiency and extraction efficiency are measured.

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Date Created
2010

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Strain-balanced InAs-InAsSb type-II superlattices on GaSb substrates for infrared photodetector applications

Description

Infrared photodetectors, used in applications for sensing and imaging, such as military target recognition, chemical/gas detection, and night vision enhancement, are predominantly comprised of an expensive II-VI material, HgCdTe. III-V type-II superlattices (SLs) have been studied as viable alternatives for

Infrared photodetectors, used in applications for sensing and imaging, such as military target recognition, chemical/gas detection, and night vision enhancement, are predominantly comprised of an expensive II-VI material, HgCdTe. III-V type-II superlattices (SLs) have been studied as viable alternatives for HgCdTe due to the SL advantages over HgCdTe: greater control of the alloy composition, resulting in more uniform materials and cutoff wavelengths across the wafer; stronger bonds and structural stability; less expensive substrates, i.e., GaSb; mature III-V growth and processing technologies; lower band-to-band tunneling due to larger electron effective masses; and reduced Auger recombination enabling operation at higher temperatures and longer wavelengths. However, the dark current of InAs/Ga1-xInxSb SL detectors is higher than that of HgCdTe detectors and limited by Shockley-Read-Hall (SRH) recombination rather than Auger recombination. This dissertation work focuses on InAs/InAs1-xSbx SLs, another promising alternative for infrared laser and detector applications due to possible lower SRH recombination and the absence of gallium, which simplifies the SL interfaces and growth processes. InAs/InAs1-xSbx SLs strain-balanced to GaSb substrates were designed for the mid- and long-wavelength infrared (MWIR and LWIR) spectral ranges and were grown using MOCVD and MBE by various groups. Detailed characterization using high-resolution x-ray diffraction, atomic force microscopy, photoluminescence (PL), and photoconductance revealed the excellent structural and optical properties of the MBE materials. Two key material parameters were studied in detail: the valence band offset (VBO) and minority carrier lifetime. The VBO between InAs and InAs1-xSbx strained on GaSb with x = 0.28 - 0.41 was best described by Qv = ÄEv/ÄEg = 1.75 ± 0.03. Time-resolved PL experiments on a LWIR SL revealed a lifetime of 412 ns at 77 K, one order of magnitude greater than that of InAs/Ga1-xInxSb LWIR SLs due to less SRH recombination. MWIR SLs also had 100's of ns lifetimes that were dominated by radiative recombination due to shorter periods and larger wave function overlaps. These results allow InAs/InAs1-xSbx SLs to be designed for LWIR photodetectors with minority carrier lifetimes approaching those of HgCdTe, lower dark currents, and higher operating temperatures.

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2012

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Design and fabrication of monolithically-integrated laterally-arrayed multiple band gap solar cells using composition-graded alloy nanowires for spectrum-splitting photovoltaic systems

Description

This dissertation aims to demonstrate a new approach to fabricating solar cells for spectrum-splitting photovoltaic systems with the potential to reduce their cost and complexity of manufacturing, called Monolithically Integrated Laterally Arrayed Multiple Band gap (MILAMB) solar cells. Single crystal

This dissertation aims to demonstrate a new approach to fabricating solar cells for spectrum-splitting photovoltaic systems with the potential to reduce their cost and complexity of manufacturing, called Monolithically Integrated Laterally Arrayed Multiple Band gap (MILAMB) solar cells. Single crystal semiconductor alloy nanowire (NW) ensembles are grown with the alloy composition and band gap changing continuously across a broad range over the surface of a single substrate in a single, inexpensive growth step by the Dual-Gradient Method. The nanowire ensembles then serve as the absorbing materials in a set of solar cells for spectrum-splitting photovoltaic systems.

Preliminary design and simulation studies based on Anderson's model band line-ups were undertaken for CdPbS and InGaN alloys. Systems of six subcells obtained efficiencies in the 32-38% range for CdPbS and 34-40% for InGaN at 1-240 suns, though both materials systems require significant development before these results could be achieved experimentally. For an experimental demonstration, CdSSe was selected due to its availability. Proof-of-concept CdSSe nanowire ensemble solar cells with two subcells were fabricated simultaneously on one substrate. I-V characterization under 1 sun AM1.5G conditions yielded open-circuit voltages (Voc) up to 307 and 173 mV and short-circuit current densities (Jsc) up to 0.091 and 0.974 mA/cm2 for the CdS- and CdSe-rich cells, respectively. Similar thin film cells were also fabricated for comparison. The nanowire cells showed substantially higher Voc than the film cells, which was attributed to higher material quality in the CdSSe absorber. I-V measurements were also conducted with optical filters to simulate a simple form of spectrum-splitting. The CdS-rich cells showed uniformly higher Voc and fill factor (FF) than the CdSe-rich cells, as expected due to their larger band gaps. This suggested higher power density was produced by the CdS-rich cells on the single-nanowire level, which is the principal benefit of spectrum-splitting. These results constitute a proof-of-concept experimental demonstration of the MILAMB approach to fabricating multiple cells for spectrum-splitting photovoltaics. Future systems based on this approach could help to reduce the cost and complexity of manufacturing spectrum-splitting photovoltaic systems and offer a low cost alternative to multi-junction tandems for achieving high efficiencies.

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Date Created
2014

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Quantum nonlinear dynamics in graphene, optomechanical, and semiconductor superlattice systems

Description

Conductance fluctuations associated with quantum transport through quantumdot systems are currently understood to depend on the nature of the corresponding classical dynamics, i.e., integrable or chaotic. There are a couple of interesting phenomena about conductance fluctuation and quantum tunneling related

Conductance fluctuations associated with quantum transport through quantumdot systems are currently understood to depend on the nature of the corresponding classical dynamics, i.e., integrable or chaotic. There are a couple of interesting phenomena about conductance fluctuation and quantum tunneling related to geometrical shapes of graphene systems. Firstly, in graphene quantum-dot systems, when a magnetic field is present, as the Fermi energy or the magnetic flux is varied, both regular oscillations and random fluctuations in the conductance can occur, with alternating transitions between the two. Secondly, a scheme based on geometrical rotation of rectangular devices to effectively modulate the conductance fluctuations is presented. Thirdly, when graphene is placed on a substrate of heavy metal, Rashba spin-orbit interaction of substantial strength can occur. In an open system such as a quantum dot, the interaction can induce spin polarization. Finally, a problem using graphene systems with electron-electron interactions described by the Hubbard Hamiltonian in the setting of resonant tunneling is investigated.

Another interesting problem in quantum transport is the effect of disorder or random impurities since it is inevitable in real experiments. At first, for a twodimensional Dirac ring, as the disorder density is systematically increased, the persistent current decreases slowly initially and then plateaus at a finite nonzero value, indicating remarkable robustness of the persistent currents, which cannot be discovered in normal metal and semiconductor rings. In addition, in a Floquet system with a ribbon structure, the conductance can be remarkably enhanced by onsite disorder.

Recent years have witnessed significant interest in nanoscale physical systems, such as semiconductor supperlattices and optomechanical systems, which can exhibit distinct collective dynamical behaviors. Firstly, a system of two optically coupled optomechanical cavities is considered and the phenomenon of synchronization transition associated with quantum entanglement transition is discovered. Another useful issue is nonlinear dynamics in semiconductor superlattices caused by its key potential application lies in generating radiation sources, amplifiers and detectors in the spectral range of terahertz. In such a system, transition to multistability, i.e., the emergence of multistability with chaos as a system parameter passes through a critical point, is found and argued to be abrupt.

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Date Created
2016