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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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Engineering III-N alloys and devices for photovoltaic progress

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The state of the solar industry has reached a point where significant advancements in efficiency will require new materials and device concepts. The material class broadly known as the III-N's have a rich history as a commercially successful semiconductor. Since

The state of the solar industry has reached a point where significant advancements in efficiency will require new materials and device concepts. The material class broadly known as the III-N's have a rich history as a commercially successful semiconductor. Since discovery in 2003 these materials have shown promise for the field of photovoltaic solar technologies. However, inherent material issues in crystal growth and the subsequent effects on device performance have hindered their development. This thesis explores new growth techniques for III-N materials in tandem with new device concepts that will either work around the previous hindrances or open pathways to device technologies with higher theoretical limits than much of current photovoltaics. These include a novel crystal growth reactor, efforts in production of better quality material at faster rates, and development of advanced photovoltaic devices: an inversion junction solar cell, material work for hot carrier solar cell, ground work for a selective carrier contact, and finally a refractory solar cell for operation at several hundred degrees Celsius.

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2016

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Structural Characterization of III-V Bismide Materials Grown by Molecular Beam Epitaxy

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III-V-bismide semiconductor alloys are a class of materials with applications in the mid and long wave infrared spectrum. The quaternary alloy InAsSbBi is attractive because it can be grown lattice-matched to commercially available GaSb substrates, and the adjustment of

III-V-bismide semiconductor alloys are a class of materials with applications in the mid and long wave infrared spectrum. The quaternary alloy InAsSbBi is attractive because it can be grown lattice-matched to commercially available GaSb substrates, and the adjustment of the Bi and Sb mole fractions enables both lattice constant and bandgap to be tuned independently. This dissertation provides a comprehensive study of the surface morphology and the structural and chemical properties of InAsSbBi alloys grown by molecular beam epitaxy.

210 nm thick InAsSbBi layers grown at temperatures from 280 °C to 430 °C on (100) on-axis, (100) offcut 1° to (011), and (100) offcut 4° to (111)A GaSb substrates are investigated using Rutherford back scattering, X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy, Nomarski optical microscopy, atomic force microscopy, and photoluminescence spectroscopy. The results indicate that the layers are coherently strained and contain dilute Bi mole fractions.

Large surface droplets with diameters and densities on the order of 3 µm and 106 cm-2 are observed when the growth is performed with As overpressures around 1%. Preferential orientation of the droplets occurs along the [011 ̅] step edges offcut (100) 1° to (011) substrate. The surface droplets are not observed when the As overpressure is increased to 4%. Small crystalline droplets with diameters and densities on the order of 70 nm and 1010 cm-2 are observed between the large droplets for the growth at 430°C. Analysis of one of the small droplets indicates a misoriented zinc blende structure composed of In, Sb, and Bi, with a 6.543 ± 0.038 Å lattice constant.

Lateral variation in the Bi mole fraction is observed in InAsSbBi grown at high temperature (400 °C, 420 °C) on (100) on-axis and (100) offcut 4° to (111)A substrates, but is not observed for growth at 280 °C or on (100) substrates that are offcut 1° to (011). Improved crystal and optical quality is observed in the high temperature grown InAsSbBi and CuPtB type atomic ordering on the {111}B planes is observed in the low temperature grown InAsSbBi. Strain induced tilt is observed in coherently strained InAsSbBi grown on offcut substrates.

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2020