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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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One dimensional modeling of mercury cadmium telluride photodetectors operated at low temperatures

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The long wavelength infrared region (LWIR) and mid wavelength infrared region (MWIR) are of great interest as detection in this region offers a wide range of real time applications. Optoelectronic devices operating in the LWIR and MWIR region offer potential

The long wavelength infrared region (LWIR) and mid wavelength infrared region (MWIR) are of great interest as detection in this region offers a wide range of real time applications. Optoelectronic devices operating in the LWIR and MWIR region offer potential applications such as; optical gas sensing, free-space optical communications, infrared counter-measures, biomedical and thermal imaging etc. HgCdTe is a prominent narrow bandgap material that operates in the LWIR region. The focus of this research work is to simulate and analyze the characteristics of a Hg1-xCdxTe photodetector. To achieve this, the tool `OPTODET' has been developed, where various device parameters can be varied and the resultant output can be analyzed. By the study of output characteristics in response to various changes in device parameters will allow users to understand the considerations that must be made in order to reach the optimum working point of an infrared detector. The tool which has been developed is a 1-D drift diffusion based simulator which solves the 1-D Poisson equation to determine potentials and utilizes the results of the 1-D electron and hole continuity equations to determine current. Parameters such as absorption co-efficient, quantum efficiency, dark current, noise, Transit time and detectivity can be simulated. All major recombination mechanisms such as SRH, Radiative and Auger recombination have been considered. Effects of band to band tunnelling have also been considered to correctly model the dark current characteristics.

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2011

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Material properties of MBE Grown ZnTe, GaSb and their heterostructures for optoelectronic device applications

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Recently a new materials platform consisting of semiconductors grown on GaSb and InAs substrates with lattice constants close to 6.1 A was proposed by our group for various electronic and optoelectronic applications. This materials platform consists of both II-VI (MgZnCdHg)(SeTe)

Recently a new materials platform consisting of semiconductors grown on GaSb and InAs substrates with lattice constants close to 6.1 A was proposed by our group for various electronic and optoelectronic applications. This materials platform consists of both II-VI (MgZnCdHg)(SeTe) and III-V (InGaAl)(AsSb) compound semiconductors, which have direct bandgaps spanning the entire energy spectrum from far-IR (~0 eV) up to UV (~3.4 eV). The broad range of bandgaps and material properties make it very attractive for a wide range of applications in optoelectronics, such as solar cells, laser diodes, light emitting diodes, and photodetectors. Moreover, this novel materials system potentially offers unlimited degrees of freedom for integration of electronic and optoelectronic devices onto a single substrate while keeping the best possible materials quality with very low densities of misfit dislocations. This capability is not achievable with any other known lattice-matched semiconductors on any available substrate. In the 6.1-A materials system, the semiconductors ZnTe and GaSb are almost perfectly lattice-matched with a lattice mismatch of only 0.13%. Correspondingly, it is expected that high quality ZnTe/GaSb and GaSb/ZnTe heterostructures can be achieved with very few dislocations generated during growth. To fulfill the task, their MBE growth and material properties are carefully investigated. High quality ZnTe layers grown on various III-V substrates and GaSb grown on ZnTe are successfully achieved using MBE. It is also noticed that ZnTe and GaSb have a type-I band-edge alignment with large band offsets (delta_Ec=0.934 eV, delta_Ev=0.6 eV), which provides strong confinement for both electrons and holes. Furthermore, a large difference in refractive index is found between ZnTe and GaSb (2.7 and 3.9, respectively, at 0.7 eV), leading to excellent optical confinement of the guided optical modes in planar semiconductor lasers or distributed Bragg reflectors (DBR) for vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers. Therefore, GaSb/ZnTe double-heterostructure and ZnTe/GaSb DBR structure are suitable for use in light emitting devices. In this thesis work, experimental demonstration of these structures with excellent structural and optical properties is reported. During the exploration on the properties of various ZnTe heterostructures, it is found that residual tensile strains exist in the thick ZnTe epilayers when they are grown on GaAs, InP, InAs and GaSb substrates. The presence of tensile strains is due to the difference in thermal expansion coefficients between the epilayers and the substrates. The defect densities in these ZnTe layers become lower as the ZnTe layer thickness increases. Growth of high quality GaSb on ZnTe can be achieved using a temperature ramp during growth. The influence of temperature ramps with different ramping rates in the optical properties of GaSb layer is studied, and the samples grown with a temperature ramp from 360 to 470 C at a rate of 33 C/min show the narrowest bound exciton emission peak with a full width at half maximum of 15 meV. ZnTe/GaSb DBR structures show excellent reflectivity properties in the mid-infrared range. A peak reflectance of 99% with a wide stopband of 480 nm centered at 2.5 um is measured from a ZnTe/GaSb DBR sample of only 7 quarter-wavelength pairs.

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2012

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MBE Growth and Characterization of III-V Bismide Semiconductor Alloys for Mid- and Long-Wave Infrared Applications

Description

The molecular beam epitaxy growth of the III-V semiconductor alloy indium arsenide antimonide bismide (InAsSbBi) is investigated over a range of growth temperatures and V/III flux ratios. Bulk and quantum well structures grown on gallium antimonide (GaSb) substrates are examined.

The molecular beam epitaxy growth of the III-V semiconductor alloy indium arsenide antimonide bismide (InAsSbBi) is investigated over a range of growth temperatures and V/III flux ratios. Bulk and quantum well structures grown on gallium antimonide (GaSb) substrates are examined. The relationships between Bi incorporation, surface morphology, growth temperature, and group-V flux are explored. A growth model is developed based on the kinetics of atomic desorption, incorporation, surface accumulation, and droplet formation. The model is applied to InAsSbBi, where the various process are fit to the Bi, Sb, and As mole fractions. The model predicts a Bi incorporation limit for lattice matched InAsSbBi grown on GaSb.The optical performance and bandgap energy of InAsSbBi is examined using photoluminescence spectroscopy. Emission is observed from low to room temperature with peaks ranging from 3.7 to 4.6 μm. The bandgap as function of temperature is determined from the first derivative maxima of the spectra fit to an Einstein single oscillator model. The photoluminescence spectra is observed to significantly broaden with Bi content as a result of lateral composition variations and the highly mismatched nature of Bi atoms, pairs, and clusters in the group-V sublattice.
A bowing model is developed for the bandgap and band offsets of the quinary alloy GaInAsSbBi and its quaternary constituents InAsSbBi and GaAsSbBi. The band anticrossing interaction due to the highly mismatched Bi atoms is incorporated into the relevant bowing terms. An algorithm is developed for the design of mid infrared GaInAsSbBi
quantum wells, with three degrees freedom to independently tune transition energy, in plane strain, and band edge offsets for desired electron and hole confinement.
The physical characteristics of the fundamental absorption edge of the relevant III-V binaries GaAs, GaSb, InAs, and InSb are examined using spectroscopic ellipsometry. A five parameter model is developed that describes the key physical characteristics of the absorption edge, including the bandgap energy, the Urbach tail, and the absorption coefficient at the bandgap.
The quantum efficiency and recombination lifetimes of bulk InAs0.911Sb0.089 grown by molecular beam epitaxy is investigated using excitation and temperature dependent steady state photoluminescence. The Shockley-Read-Hall, radiative, and Auger recombination lifetimes are determined.

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2020

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Investigation and Analysis of Thermal Performance of InGaN/GaN Light Emitting Diodes

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Light Emitting Diodes even with their longer life, robust build and low power consumption, they are still plagued by some problems the most significant of which are the current droop and thermal droop. Current droop causes a lowering in the

Light Emitting Diodes even with their longer life, robust build and low power consumption, they are still plagued by some problems the most significant of which are the current droop and thermal droop. Current droop causes a lowering in the Internal Quantum Efficiency with increased current injection while thermal droop lowers the whole Internal Quantum Efficiency curve with increase in temperature. The focus here was understanding effects of thermal droop and develop a method to control it.

Shockley Read Hall recombination plays a dominant role in the thermal droop effect when the current injection is low. Since the blue light emitting diode is based on Gallium Nitride, we need to take into consideration the effect of piezoelectric polarization in the quantum wells. The effects of the piezoelectric fields were studied based on the Gallium Nitride plane orientations. It was found in a Gallium Nitride light emitting diodes simulation study that more the number of quantum wells, lower would be the Radiative recombination rate. The problem of exacerbated spatial separation of electron hole wavefunctions in a thick single quantum well structure lead to the development of a dual well structure where one well assisted the other during high temperature operations. The Electron Blocking Layer was reduced in thickness and was made only 10 nm thick with a 5 nm Gallium Nitride buffer between it and the active region wells. The main reason for reducing the electron blocking layer thickness was to reduce the valance band offset and improve hole transport into the active region. Three different dual well designs were simulated of 3nm, 6nm and 9nm wide wells. The output parameters like the Power Spectral Density, Electron bound density, Light Output Power and Electron-Hole wavefunction overlaps were calculated. It was found that one of the wells acted as an assisting well where it had very little radiative recombination activity in it at room temperature.

As the temperature increased, it was observed that the electrons in the main well started to overflow out of it and into the assisting well where the radiative recombination rate increased significantly. This lead to a boost in Internal Quantum Efficiency.

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2017

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Wave-packet Phase-space Monte Carlo approach to the Modeling of Quantum Devices

Description

Advanced and mature computer simulation methods exist in fluid dynamics, elec-

tromagnetics, semiconductors, chemical transport, and even chemical and material

electronic structure. However, few general or accurate methods have been developed

for quantum photonic devices. Here, a novel approach utilizing phase-space quantum

mechanics is

Advanced and mature computer simulation methods exist in fluid dynamics, elec-

tromagnetics, semiconductors, chemical transport, and even chemical and material

electronic structure. However, few general or accurate methods have been developed

for quantum photonic devices. Here, a novel approach utilizing phase-space quantum

mechanics is developed to model photon transport in ring resonators, a form of en-

tangled pair source. The key features the model needs to illustrate are the emergence

of non-classicality and entanglement between photons due to nonlinear effects in the

ring. The quantum trajectory method is subsequently demonstrated on a sequence

of elementary models and multiple aspects of the ring resonator itself.

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2020

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Metasurface-Based Optoelectronic Devices for Polarization Detection and Ultrafast Optical Modulation

Description

Optical metasurfaces, i.e. artificially engineered arrays of subwavelength building blocks supporting abrupt and substantial light confinement, was employed to demonstrate a novel generation of devices for circularly polarized detection, full-Stokes polarimetry and all-optical modulation with ultra-compact footprint and chip-integrability.

Optical chirality

Optical metasurfaces, i.e. artificially engineered arrays of subwavelength building blocks supporting abrupt and substantial light confinement, was employed to demonstrate a novel generation of devices for circularly polarized detection, full-Stokes polarimetry and all-optical modulation with ultra-compact footprint and chip-integrability.

Optical chirality is essential for generation, manipulation and detection of circularly polarized light (CPL), thus finds many applications in quantum computing, communication, spectroscopy, biomedical diagnosis, imaging and sensing. Compared to natural chiral materials, chiral metamaterials and metasurfaces enable much stronger chirality on subwavelength scale; therefore, they are ideal for device miniaturization and system integration. However, they are usually associated with low performance due to limited fabrication tolerance and high dissipation mainly caused by plasmonic materials. Here, a bio-inspired submicron-thick chiral metamaterial structure was designed and demonstrated experimentally with high contrast (extinction ratio >35) detection of CPL with different handedness and high efficiency (>80%) of the overall device. Furthermore, integration of left- and right-handed CPL detection units with nanograting linear polarization filters enabled full-Stokes polarimetry of arbitrarily input polarization states with high accuracy and very low insertion loss, all on a submillimeter single chip. These unprecedented highly efficient and high extinction ratio devices pave the way for on-chip polarimetric measurements.

All-optical modulation is widely used for optical interconnects, communication, information processing, and ultrafast spectroscopy. Yet, there’s deficiency of ultrafast, compact and energy-efficient solutions all in one device. Here, all-optical modulation of light in the near- and mid-infrared regimes were experimentally demonstrated based on a graphene-integrated plasmonic nanoantenna array. The remarkable feature of the device design is its simultaneous near-field enhancement for pump and probe (signal) beams, owing to the localized surface plasmon resonance excitation, while preserving the ultrafast photocarrier relaxation in graphene. Hence, a distinct modulation at 1560nm with record-low pump fluence (<8μJ/cm^2) was reported with ~1ps response time. Besides, relying on broadband interaction of graphene with incident light, a first-time demonstration of graphene-based all-optical modulation in mid-infrared spectral region (6-7μm) was reported based on the above double-enhancement design concept. Relying on the tunability of metasurface design, the proposed device can be used for ultrafast optical modulation from near-infrared to terahertz regime.

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2020

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Design and Development of High Performance III-Nitrides Photovoltaics

Description

Wurtzite (In, Ga, Al) N semiconductors, especially InGaN material systems, demonstrate immense promises for the high efficiency thin film photovoltaic (PV) applications for future generation. Their unique and intriguing merits include continuously tunable wide band gap from 0.70 eV to

Wurtzite (In, Ga, Al) N semiconductors, especially InGaN material systems, demonstrate immense promises for the high efficiency thin film photovoltaic (PV) applications for future generation. Their unique and intriguing merits include continuously tunable wide band gap from 0.70 eV to 3.4 eV, strong absorption coefficient on the order of ∼105 cm−1, superior radiation resistance under harsh environment, and high saturation velocities and high mobility. Calculation from the detailed balance model also revealed that in multi-junction (MJ) solar cell device, materials with band gaps higher than 2.4 eV are required to achieve PV efficiencies greater than 50%, which is practically and easily feasible for InGaN materials. Other state-of-art modeling on InGaN solar cells also demonstrate great potential for applications of III-nitride solar cells in four-junction solar cell devices as well as in the integration with a non-III-nitride junction in multi-junction devices.

This dissertation first theoretically analyzed loss mechanisms and studied the theoretical limit of PV performance of InGaN solar cells with a semi-analytical model. Then three device design strategies are proposed to study and improve PV performance: band polarization engineering, structural design and band engineering. Moreover, three physical mechanisms related to high temperature performance of InGaN solar cells have been thoroughly investigated: thermal reliability issue, enhanced external quantum efficiency (EQE) and conversion efficiency with rising temperatures and carrier dynamics and localization effects inside nonpolar m-plane InGaN quantum wells (QWs) at high temperatures. In the end several future work will also be proposed.

Although still in its infancy, past and projected future progress of device design will ultimately achieve this very goal that III-nitride based solar cells will be indispensable for today and future’s society, technologies and society.

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2020

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Wide Bandgap Semiconductors Based Energy-Efficient Optoelectronics and Power Electronics

Description

Wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors GaN (3.4 eV), Ga2O3 (4.8 eV) and AlN (6.2 eV), have gained considerable interests for energy-efficient optoelectronic and electronic applications in solid-state lighting, photovoltaics, power conversion, and so on. They can offer unique device performance compared

Wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors GaN (3.4 eV), Ga2O3 (4.8 eV) and AlN (6.2 eV), have gained considerable interests for energy-efficient optoelectronic and electronic applications in solid-state lighting, photovoltaics, power conversion, and so on. They can offer unique device performance compared with traditional semiconductors such as Si. Efficient GaN based light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have increasingly displaced incandescent and fluorescent bulbs as the new major light sources for lighting and display. In addition, due to their large bandgap and high critical electrical field, WBG semiconductors are also ideal candidates for efficient power conversion.

In this dissertation, two types of devices are demonstrated: optoelectronic and electronic devices. Commercial polar c-plane LEDs suffer from reduced efficiency with increasing current densities, knowns as “efficiency droop”, while nonpolar/semipolar LEDs exhibit a very low efficiency droop. A modified ABC model with weak phase space filling effects is proposed to explain the low droop performance, providing insights for designing droop-free LEDs. The other emerging optoelectronics is nonpolar/semipolar III-nitride intersubband transition (ISBT) based photodetectors in terahertz and far infrared regime due to the large optical phonon energy and band offset, and the potential of room-temperature operation. ISBT properties are systematically studied for devices with different structures parameters.

In terms of electronic devices, vertical GaN p-n diodes and Schottky barrier diodes (SBDs) with high breakdown voltages are homoepitaxially grown on GaN bulk substrates with much reduced defect densities and improved device performance. The advantages of the vertical structure over the lateral structure are multifold: smaller chip area, larger current, less sensitivity to surface states, better scalability, and smaller current dispersion. Three methods are proposed to boost the device performances: thick buffer layer design, hydrogen-plasma based edge termination technique, and multiple drift layer design. In addition, newly emerged Ga2O3 and AlN power electronics may outperform GaN devices. Because of the highly anisotropic crystal structure of Ga2O3, anisotropic electrical properties have been observed in Ga2O3 electronics. The first 1-kV-class AlN SBDs are demonstrated on cost-effective sapphire substrates. Several future topics are also proposed including selective-area doping in GaN power devices, vertical AlN power devices, and (Al,Ga,In)2O3 materials and devices.

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Date Created
2019