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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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Dual-wavelength internal-optically-pumped semiconductor laser diodes

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Dual-wavelength laser sources have various existing and potential applications in wavelength division multiplexing, differential techniques in spectroscopy for chemical sensing, multiple-wavelength interferometry, terahertz-wave generation, microelectromechanical systems, and microfluidic lab-on-chip systems. In the drive for ever smaller and increasingly mobile electronic

Dual-wavelength laser sources have various existing and potential applications in wavelength division multiplexing, differential techniques in spectroscopy for chemical sensing, multiple-wavelength interferometry, terahertz-wave generation, microelectromechanical systems, and microfluidic lab-on-chip systems. In the drive for ever smaller and increasingly mobile electronic devices, dual-wavelength coherent light output from a single semiconductor laser diode would enable further advances and deployment of these technologies. The output of conventional laser diodes is however limited to a single wavelength band with a few subsequent lasing modes depending on the device design. This thesis investigates a novel semiconductor laser device design with a single cavity waveguide capable of dual-wavelength laser output with large spectral separation. The novel dual-wavelength semiconductor laser diode uses two shorter- and longer-wavelength active regions that have separate electron and hole quasi-Fermi energy levels and carrier distributions. The shorter-wavelength active region is based on electrical injection as in conventional laser diodes, and the longer-wavelength active region is then pumped optically by the internal optical field of the shorter-wavelength laser mode, resulting in stable dual-wavelength laser emission at two different wavelengths quite far apart. Different designs of the device are studied using a theoretical model developed in this work to describe the internal optical pumping scheme. The carrier transport and separation of the quasi-Fermi distributions are then modeled using a software package that solves Poisson's equation and the continuity equations to simulate semiconductor devices. Three different designs are grown using molecular beam epitaxy, and broad-area-contact laser diodes are processed using conventional methods. The modeling and experimental results of the first generation design indicate that the optical confinement factor of the longer-wavelength active region is a critical element in realizing dual-wavelength laser output. The modeling predicts lower laser thresholds for the second and third generation designs; however, the experimental results of the second and third generation devices confirm challenges related to the epitaxial growth of the structures in eventually demonstrating dual-wavelength laser output.

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Date Created
2011

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Defect creation in InGaAs/GaAs multiple quantum wells: correlation of crystalline and optical properties with epitaxial growth conditions

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Multiple quantum well (MQW) structures have been employed in a variety of solid state devices. The InGaAs/GaAs material system is of special interest for many optoelectronic applications. This study examines epitaxial growth and defect creation in InGaAs/GaAs MQWs at its

Multiple quantum well (MQW) structures have been employed in a variety of solid state devices. The InGaAs/GaAs material system is of special interest for many optoelectronic applications. This study examines epitaxial growth and defect creation in InGaAs/GaAs MQWs at its initial stage. Correlations between physical properties, crystal perfection of epitaxial structures, and growth conditions under which desired properties are achieved appear as highly important for the realization and final performance of semiconductor based devices.

Molecular beam epitaxy was utilized to grow InGaAs/GaAs MQW structures with a variation in deposition temperature Tdep among the samples to change crystalline and physical properties. High resolution x-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy were utilized to probe crystal properties, whereas photoluminescence spectroscopy evaluated optical response. An optimal growth temperature Tdep=505°C was found for 20% In composition. The density of 60° primary and secondary dislocation loops increased continuously at lower growth temperatures and reduced crystal perfection, as evaluated by lateral and vertical coherence lengths and diffuse scattering in reciprocal space maps. Likewise, the strength of non-radiative Shockley-Read-Hall recombination increased as deposition temperature was reduced. Elevated deposition temperature led to InGaAs decay in the structures and manifested in different crystalline defects with a rather isotropic distribution and no lateral ordering. High available thermal energy increased atomic surface diffusivity and resulted in growth surface instability against perturbations, manifesting in lateral layer thickness undulations. Carriers in structures grown at elevated temperature experience localization in local energy minima.InGaAs/GaAs MQW structures reveal correlation between their crystal quality and optical properties. It can be suggested that there is an optimal growth temperature range for each In composition with high crystal perfection and best physical response.

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2014