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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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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