Matching Items (52)

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Dendritic Electrodes as an Alternative Model for Current Collection in Solar Cells

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Exploring solar cell model alternatives using electrochemically deposited dendrites as a form of current collection to increase efficiency and top electrode transparency.

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  • 2013-05

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Characterization of Stress in Electroplated Copper

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Current solar cells use a silver-printed front grid for electron conduction. Unfortunately, silver is expensive, leading to research into alternative materials. Copper is the most viable but poses grain growth

Current solar cells use a silver-printed front grid for electron conduction. Unfortunately, silver is expensive, leading to research into alternative materials. Copper is the most viable but poses grain growth problems and stress problems silver does not. This paper has characterised the effects of proprietary additives, thickness of the copper film layer, current density, and grain growth on stress. Per Stoney's equation, increased thickness leads to decreased thickness. However, if the current density is too high, the plated copper will become porous. Grain growth, quantified by the ratio of the intensity of the (1 1 1) plane and the (2 0 0) plane, increases over time, thus increasing the ratio which further equations to increased stress. Future work would be gathering more data to further investigate the relationship between additives and stress, current densities and stress, and grain growth over time and stress.

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  • 2018-05

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Reliability of Photovoltaic Cells with Plated Copper Electrodes

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An ongoing effort in the photovoltaic (PV) industry is to reduce the major manufacturing cost components of solar cells, the great majority of which are based on crystalline silicon (c-Si).

An ongoing effort in the photovoltaic (PV) industry is to reduce the major manufacturing cost components of solar cells, the great majority of which are based on crystalline silicon (c-Si). This includes the substitution of screenprinted silver (Ag) cell contacts with alternative copper (Cu)-based contacts, usually applied with plating. Plated Cu contact schemes have been under study for many years with only minor traction in industrial production. One of the more commonly-cited barriers to the adoption of Cu-based contacts for photovoltaics is long-term reliability, as Cu is a significant contaminant in c-Si, forming precipitates that degrade performance via degradation of diode character and reduction of minority carrier lifetime. Cu contamination from contacts might cause degradation during field deployment if Cu is able to ingress into c-Si. Furthermore, Cu contamination is also known to cause a form of light-induced degradation (LID) which further degrades carrier lifetime when cells are exposed to light.

Prior literature on Cu-contact reliability tended to focus on accelerated testing at the cell and wafer level that may not be entirely replicative of real-world environmental stresses in PV modules. This thesis is aimed at advancing the understanding of Cu-contact reliability from the perspective of quasi-commercial modules under more realistic stresses. In this thesis, c-Si solar cells with Cu-plated contacts are fabricated, made into PV modules, and subjected to environmental stress in an attempt to induce hypothesized failure modes and understand any new vulnerabilities that Cu contacts might introduce. In particular, damp heat stress is applied to conventional, p-type c-Si modules and high efficiency, n-type c-Si heterojunction modules. I present evidence of Cu-induced diode degradation that also depends on PV module materials, as well as degradation unrelated to Cu, and in either case suggest engineering solutions to the observed degradation. In a forensic search for degradation mechanisms, I present novel evidence of Cu outdiffusion from contact layers and encapsulant-driven contact corrosion as potential key factors. Finally, outdoor exposures to light uncover peculiarities in Cu-plated samples, but do not point to especially serious vulnerabilities.

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Date Created
  • 2020

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Towards high-efficiency thin-film solar cells: from theoretical analysis to experimental exploration

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GaAs single-junction solar cells have been studied extensively in recent years, and have reached over 28 % efficiency. Further improvement requires an optically thick but physically thin absorber to provide

GaAs single-junction solar cells have been studied extensively in recent years, and have reached over 28 % efficiency. Further improvement requires an optically thick but physically thin absorber to provide both large short-circuit current and high open-circuit voltage. By detailed simulation, it is concluded that ultra-thin GaAs cells with hundreds of nanometers thickness and reflective back scattering can potentially offer efficiencies greater than 30 %. The 300 nm GaAs solar cell with AlInP/Au reflective back scattering is carefully designed and demonstrates an efficiency of 19.1 %. The device performance is analyzed using the semi-analytical model with Phong distribution implemented to account for non-Lambertian scattering. A Phong exponent m of ~12, a non-radiative lifetime of 130 ns, and a specific series resistivity of 1.2 Ω·cm2 are determined.

Thin-film CdTe solar cells have also attracted lots of attention due to the continuous improvements in their device performance. To address the issue of the lower efficiency record compared to detailed-balance limit, the single-crystalline Cd(Zn)Te/MgCdTe double heterostructures (DH) grown on InSb (100) substrates by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) are carefully studied. The Cd0.9946Zn0.0054Te alloy lattice-matched to InSb has been demonstrated with a carrier lifetime of 0.34 µs observed in a 3 µm thick Cd0.9946Zn0.0054Te/MgCdTe DH sample. The substantial improvement of lifetime is due to the reduction in misfit dislocation density. The recombination lifetime and interface recombination velocity (IRV) of CdTe/MgxCd1-xTe DHs are investigated. The IRV is found to be dependent on both the MgCdTe barrier height and width due to the thermionic emission and tunneling processes. A record-long carrier lifetime of 2.7 µs and a record-low IRV of close to zero have been confirmed experimentally.

The MgCdTe/Si tandem solar cell is proposed to address the issue of high manufacturing costs and poor performance of thin-film solar cells. The MBE grown MgxCd1-xTe/MgyCd1-yTe DHs have demonstrated the required bandgap energy of 1.7 eV, a carrier lifetime of 11 ns, and an effective IRV of (1.869 ± 0.007) × 103 cm/s. The large IRV is attributed to thermionic-emission induced interface recombination. These understandings can be applied to fabricating the high-efficiency low-cost MgCdTe/Si tandem solar cell.

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  • 2015

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High efficiency GaAs-based solar cells simulation and fabrication

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GaAs-based solar cells have attracted much interest because of their high conversion efficiencies of ~28% under one sun illumination. The main carrier recombination mechanisms in the GaAs-based solar cells are

GaAs-based solar cells have attracted much interest because of their high conversion efficiencies of ~28% under one sun illumination. The main carrier recombination mechanisms in the GaAs-based solar cells are surface recombination, radiative recombination and non-radiative recombination. Photon recycling reduces the effect of radiative recombination and is an approach to obtain the device performance described by detailed balance theory. The photon recycling model has been developed and was applied to investigate the loss mechanisms in the state-of-the-art GaAs-based solar cell structures using PC1D software. A standard fabrication process of the GaAs-based solar cells is as follows: wafer preparation, individual cell isolation by mesa, n- and p-type metallization, rapid thermal annealing (RTA), cap layer etching, and anti-reflection coating (ARC). The growth rate for GaAs-based materials is one of critical factors to determine the cost for the growth of GaAs-based solar cells. The cost for fabricating GaAs-based solar cells can be reduced if the growth rate is increased without degrading the crystalline quality. The solar cell wafers grown at different growth rates of 14 μm/hour and 55 μm/hour were discussed in this work. The structural properties of the wafers were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD) to identify the crystalline quality, and then the as-grown wafers were fabricated into solar cell devices under the same process conditions. The optical and electrical properties such as surface reflection, external quantum efficiency (EQE), dark I-V, Suns-Voc, and illuminated I-V under one sun using a solar simulator were measured to compare the performances of the solar cells with different growth rates. Some simulations in PC1D have been demonstrated to investigate the reasons of the different device performances between fast growth and slow growth structures. A further analysis of the minority carrier lifetime is needed to investigate into the difference in device performances.

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  • 2014

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Electrochemical and photoelectrochemical properties of the copper hydroxyphosphate mineral libethenite

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There has been much interest in photoelectrochemical conversion of solar energy in recent years due to its potential for low-–cost, sustainable and renewable production of fuels. Despite the huge potential,

There has been much interest in photoelectrochemical conversion of solar energy in recent years due to its potential for low-–cost, sustainable and renewable production of fuels. Despite the huge potential, there are still a number of technical barriers due to the many constraints needed in order to drive photoelectrochemical reactions such as overall water splitting and the identification of efficient and effective semiconductor materials. To this end, the search for novel semiconductors that can act as light absorbers is still needed. The copper hydroxyphosphate mineral libethenite (CHP), which has a chemical formula of Cu2(OH)PO4, has been recently shown to be active for photocatalytic degradation of methylene blue under UV-–irradiation, indicating that photo-excited electrons and holes can effectively be generated and separated in this material. However, CHP has not been well studied and many of its fundamental electrochemical and photoelectrochemical properties are still unknown. In this work, the synthesis of different morphologies of CHP using hydrothermal synthesis and precipitation methods were explored. Additionally, a preliminary investigation of the relevant fundamental characteristics such as the bandgap, flatband potential, band diagram, electrochemical and photoelectrochemical properties for CHP was performed. Better understanding of the properties of this material may lead to the development of improved catalysts and photocatalysts from natural sources.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Modified equivalent circuit for organic solar cells

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In this work a newly fabricated organic solar cell based on a composite of fullerene derivative [6,6]-phenyl-C61 butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM) and regioregular poly (3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) with an added

In this work a newly fabricated organic solar cell based on a composite of fullerene derivative [6,6]-phenyl-C61 butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM) and regioregular poly (3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) with an added interfacial layer of AgOx in between the PEDOT:PSS layer and the ITO layer is investigated. Previous equivalent circuit models are discussed and an equivalent circuit model is proposed for the fabricated device. Incorporation of the AgOx interfacial layer shows an increase in fill factor (by 33%) and power conversion efficiency (by 28%). Moreover proper correlation has been achieved between the experimental and simulated I-V plots. The simulation shows that device characteristics can be explained with accuracy by the proposed model.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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The design and demonstration of monocrystalline CdTe/MgCdTe double-heterostructure solar cells

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Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) possesses preferable optical properties for photovoltaic (PV) applications: a near optimum bandgap of 1.5 eV, and a high absorption coefficient of over 15,000 cm-1 at the band

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) possesses preferable optical properties for photovoltaic (PV) applications: a near optimum bandgap of 1.5 eV, and a high absorption coefficient of over 15,000 cm-1 at the band edge. The detailed-balance limiting efficiency is 32.1% with an open-circuit voltage (Voc) of 1.23 V under the AM1.5G spectrum. The record polycrystalline CdTe thin-film cell efficiency has reached 22.1%, with excellent short-circuit current densities (Jsc) and fill-factors (FF). However, the Voc (~900 mV) is still far below the theoretical value, due to the large non-radiative recombination in the polycrystalline CdTe absorber, and the low-level p-type doping.

Monocrystalline CdTe/MgCdTe double-heterostructures (DHs) grown on lattice-matched InSb substrates have demonstrated impressively long carrier lifetimes in both unintentionally doped and Indium-doped n-type CdTe samples. The non-radiative recombination inside of, and at the interfaces of the CdTe absorbers in CdTe/MgCdTe DH samples has been significantly reduced due to the use of lattice-matched InSb substrates, and the excellent passivation provided by the MgCdTe barrier layers. The external luminescent quantum efficiency (η_ext) of n-type CdTe/MgCdTe DHs is up to 3.1%, observed from a 1-µm-thick CdTe/MgCdTe DH doped at 1017 cm-3. The 3.1% η_ext corresponds to an internal luminescent quantum efficiency (η_int) of 91%. Such a high η_ext gives an implied Voc, or quasi-Fermi-level splitting, of 1.13 V.

To obtain actual Voc, the quasi-Fermi-level splitting should be extracted to outside the circuit using a hole-selective contact layer. However, CdTe is difficult to be doped p-type, making it challenging to make efficient PN junction CdTe solar cells. With the use of MgCdTe barrier layers, the hole-contact layer can be defective without affecting the voltage. P-type hydrogenated amorphous silicon is an effective hole-selective contact for CdTe solar cells, enabling monocrystalline CdTe/MgCdTe DH solar cells to achieve Voc over 1.1 V, and a maximum active area efficiency of 18.8% (Jsc = 23.3 mA/cm2, Voc = 1.114 V, and FF = 72.3%). The knowledge gained through making the record-efficiency monocrystalline CdTe cell, particularly the n-type doping and the double-heterostructure design, may be transferable to polycrystalline CdTe thin-film cells and improve their competitiveness in the PV industry.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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Series resistance increase in field degraded PV modules in different climatic conditions

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Global photovoltaic (PV) module installation in 2018 is estimated to exceed 100 GW, and crystalline Si (c-Si) solar cell-based modules have a share more than 90% of the global PV

Global photovoltaic (PV) module installation in 2018 is estimated to exceed 100 GW, and crystalline Si (c-Si) solar cell-based modules have a share more than 90% of the global PV market. To reduce the social cost of PV electricity, further developments in reliability of solar panels are expected. These will lead to realize longer module lifetime and reduced levelized cost of energy. As many as 86 failure modes are observed in PV modules [1] and series resistance increase is one of the major durability issues of all. Series resistance constitutes emitter sheet resistance, metal-semiconductor contact resistance, and resistance across the metal-solder ribbon. Solder bond degradation at the cell interconnect is one of the primary causes for increase in series resistance, which is also considered to be an invisible defect [1]. Combination of intermetallic compounds (IMC) formation during soldering and their growth due to solid state diffusion over its lifetime result in formation of weak interfaces between the solar cell and the interconnect. Thermal cycling under regular operating conditions induce thermo-mechanical fatigue over these weak interfaces resulting in contact reduction or loss. Contact reduction or loss leads to increase in series resistance which further manifests into power and fill factor loss. The degree of intermixing of metallic interfaces and contact loss depends on climatic conditions as temperature and humidity (moisture ingression into the PV module laminate) play a vital role in reaction kinetics of these layers. Modules from Arizona and Florida served as a good sample set to analyze the effects of hot and humid climatic conditions respectively. The results obtained in the current thesis quantifies the thickness of IMC formation from SEM-EDS profiles, where similar modules obtained from different climatic conditions were compared. The results indicate the thickness of the IMC and detachment degree to be growing with age and operating temperatures of the module. This can be seen in CuxSny IMC which is thicker in the case of Arizona module. The results obtained from FL

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aged modules also show that humidity accelerates the formation of IMC as they showed thicker AgxSny layer and weak interconnect-contact interfaces as compared to Arizona modules. It is also shown that climatic conditions have different effects on rate at which CuxSny and AgxSny intermetallic compounds are formed.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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Novel Approaches for Improving Efficiency and Stability of Next Generation Perovskite Solar Cells

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Perovskite solar cells are the next generation organic-inorganic hybrid technology and have achieved remarkable efficiencies comparable to Si-based conventional solar cells. Since their inception in 2009 with an efficiency of

Perovskite solar cells are the next generation organic-inorganic hybrid technology and have achieved remarkable efficiencies comparable to Si-based conventional solar cells. Since their inception in 2009 with an efficiency of 3.9%, they have improved tremendously over the past decade and recently demonstrated 25.2% efficiency for single-junction devices. There are a few hurdles, however, that prevent this technology from realizing their full potential, such as stability and toxicity of the perovskites. Apart from solution processing in the fabrication of perovskites, precursor composition plays a major role in determining the quality of the thin film and its general properties. This work studies novel approaches for improving the efficiency and stability of the perovskite solar cells with minimized toxicity. The effect of excess Pb on photo-degradation in MAPbI3 perovskites in an inverted device architecture was studied with a focus on improving stability and efficiency. Precursor concentration with 5% excess Pb was found to be optimal for better efficiency and stability against photo-degradation. Further improvements in efficiency were made possible through the addition of Zirconium Acetylacetonate as a secondary electron buffer layer. A concentration of 1.5mg/ml was found to be optimal for demonstrating better efficiency and stability. Partial substitution of Pb with non-toxic Sr was also studied for improving the stability of inverted devices. Using acetate-derived precursors, 10% Sr was introduced into perovskites for improvements to the stability of the device.

In another study, triple-cation perovskites with FAMACs cations were studied with doping different amounts of Phenyl Ethyl Ammonium (PEA) to induce a quasi 2D-3D structure for improved moisture stability. Doping the perovskite with 1.67% PEA was found to be best for improved morphology with fewer pinholes, which further resulted in better VOC and stability. A passivation effect for triple-cation perovskites was further proposed with the addition of a Guanidinium Iodide layer on the perovskite. Concentrations of 1mg/ml and 2mg/ml were demonstrated to be best for reducing defects and trap states and increasing the overall stability of the device.

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Date Created
  • 2020