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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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MESFET optimization and innovative design for high current device applications

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There will always be a need for high current/voltage transistors. A transistor that has the ability to be both or either of these things is the silicon metal-silicon field effect transistor (MESFET). An additional perk that silicon MESFET transistors have

There will always be a need for high current/voltage transistors. A transistor that has the ability to be both or either of these things is the silicon metal-silicon field effect transistor (MESFET). An additional perk that silicon MESFET transistors have is the ability to be integrated into the standard silicon on insulator (SOI) complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) process flow. This makes a silicon MESFET transistor a very valuable device for use in any standard CMOS circuit that may usually need a separate integrated circuit (IC) in order to switch power on or from a high current/voltage because it allows this function to be performed with a single chip thereby cutting costs. The ability for the MESFET to cost effectively satisfy the needs of this any many other high current/voltage device application markets is what drives the study of MESFET optimization. Silicon MESFETs that are integrated into standard SOI CMOS processes often receive dopings during fabrication that would not ideally be there in a process made exclusively for MESFETs. Since these remnants of SOI CMOS processing effect the operation of a MESFET device, their effect can be seen in the current-voltage characteristics of a measured MESFET device. Device simulations are done and compared to measured silicon MESFET data in order to deduce the cause and effect of many of these SOI CMOS remnants. MESFET devices can be made in both fully depleted (FD) and partially depleted (PD) SOI CMOS technologies. Device simulations are used to do a comparison of FD and PD MESFETs in order to show the advantages and disadvantages of MESFETs fabricated in different technologies. It is shown that PD MESFET have the highest current per area capability. Since the PD MESFET is shown to have the highest current capability, a layout optimization method to further increase the current per area capability of the PD silicon MESFET is presented, derived, and proven to a first order.

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2011

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The use of voltage compliant silicon on insulator MESFETs for high power and high temperature pulse width modulated drive circuits

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Silicon Carbide (SiC) junction field effect transistors (JFETs) are ideal for switching high current, high voltage loads in high temperature environments. These devices require external drive circuits to generate pulse width modulated (PWM) signals switching from 0V to approximately 10V.

Silicon Carbide (SiC) junction field effect transistors (JFETs) are ideal for switching high current, high voltage loads in high temperature environments. These devices require external drive circuits to generate pulse width modulated (PWM) signals switching from 0V to approximately 10V. Advanced CMOS microcontrollers are ideal for generating the PWM signals but are limited in output voltage due to their low breakdown voltage within the CMOS drive circuits. As a result, an intermediate buffer stage is required between the CMOS circuitry and the JFET. In this thesis, a discrete silicon-on-insulator (SOI) metal semiconductor field effect transistor (MESFET) was used to drive the gate of a SiC power JFET switching a 120V RMS AC supply into a 30Ω load. The wide operating temperature range and high breakdown voltage of up to 50V make the SOI MESFET ideal for power electronics in extreme environments. Characteristic curves for the MESFET were measured up to 250&degC.; To drive the JFET, the MESFET was DC biased and then driven by a 1.2V square wave PWM signal to switch the JFET gate from 0 to 10V at frequencies up to 20kHz. For simplicity, the 1.2V PWM square wave signal was provided by a 555 timer. The JFET gate drive circuit was measured at high temperatures up to 235&degC.; The circuit operated well at the high temperatures without any damage to the SOI MESFET or SiC JFET. The drive current of the JFET was limited by the duty cycle range of the 555 timer used. The SiC JFET drain current decreased with increased temperature. Due to the easy integration of MESFETs into SOI CMOS processes, MESFETs can be fabricated alongside MOSFETs without any changes in the process flow. This thesis demonstrates the feasibility of integrating a MESFET with CMOS PWM circuitry for a completely integrated SiC driver thus eliminating the need for the intermediate buffer stage.

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2010