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High efficiency GaAs-based solar cells simulation and fabrication

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GaAs-based solar cells have attracted much interest because of their high conversion efficiencies of ~28% under one sun illumination. The main carrier recombination mechanisms in the GaAs-based solar cells are

GaAs-based solar cells have attracted much interest because of their high conversion efficiencies of ~28% under one sun illumination. The main carrier recombination mechanisms in the GaAs-based solar cells are surface recombination, radiative recombination and non-radiative recombination. Photon recycling reduces the effect of radiative recombination and is an approach to obtain the device performance described by detailed balance theory. The photon recycling model has been developed and was applied to investigate the loss mechanisms in the state-of-the-art GaAs-based solar cell structures using PC1D software. A standard fabrication process of the GaAs-based solar cells is as follows: wafer preparation, individual cell isolation by mesa, n- and p-type metallization, rapid thermal annealing (RTA), cap layer etching, and anti-reflection coating (ARC). The growth rate for GaAs-based materials is one of critical factors to determine the cost for the growth of GaAs-based solar cells. The cost for fabricating GaAs-based solar cells can be reduced if the growth rate is increased without degrading the crystalline quality. The solar cell wafers grown at different growth rates of 14 μm/hour and 55 μm/hour were discussed in this work. The structural properties of the wafers were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD) to identify the crystalline quality, and then the as-grown wafers were fabricated into solar cell devices under the same process conditions. The optical and electrical properties such as surface reflection, external quantum efficiency (EQE), dark I-V, Suns-Voc, and illuminated I-V under one sun using a solar simulator were measured to compare the performances of the solar cells with different growth rates. Some simulations in PC1D have been demonstrated to investigate the reasons of the different device performances between fast growth and slow growth structures. A further analysis of the minority carrier lifetime is needed to investigate into the difference in device performances.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Modeling, growth and characterization of III-V and dilute nitride antimonide materials and solar cells

Description

III-V multijunction solar cells have demonstrated record efficiencies with the best device currently at 46 % under concentration. Dilute nitride materials such as GaInNAsSb have been identified as a prime

III-V multijunction solar cells have demonstrated record efficiencies with the best device currently at 46 % under concentration. Dilute nitride materials such as GaInNAsSb have been identified as a prime choice for the development of high efficiency, monolithic and lattice-matched multijunction solar cells as they can be lattice-matched to both GaAs and Ge substrates. These types of cells have demonstrated efficiencies of 44% for terrestrial concentrators, and with their upright configuration, they are a direct drop-in product for today’s space and concentrator solar panels. The work presented in this dissertation has focused on the development of relatively novel dilute nitride antimonide (GaNAsSb) materials and solar cells using plasma-assisted molecular beam epitaxy, along with the modeling and characterization of single- and multijunction solar cells.

Nitrogen-free ternary compounds such as GaInAs and GaAsSb were investigated first in order to understand their structural and optical properties prior to introducing nitrogen. The formation of extended defects and the resulting strain relaxation in these lattice-mismatched materials is investigated through extensive structural characterization. Temperature- and power-dependent photoluminescence revealed an inhomogeneous distribution of Sb in GaAsSb films, leading to carrier localization effects at low temperatures. Tuning of the growth parameters was shown to suppress these Sb-induced localized states.

The introduction of nitrogen was then considered and the growth process was optimized to obtain high quality GaNAsSb films lattice-matched to GaAs. Near 1-eV single-junction GaNAsSb solar cells were produced. The best devices used a p-n heterojunction configuration and demonstrated a current density of 20.8 mA/cm2, a fill factor of 64 % and an open-circuit voltage of 0.39 V, corresponding to a bandgap-voltage offset of 0.57 V, comparable with the state-of-the-art for this type of solar cells. Post-growth annealing was found to be essential to improve Voc but was also found to degrade the material quality of the top layers. Alternatives are discussed to improve this process. Unintentional high background doping was identified as the main factor limiting the device performance. The use of Bi-surfactant mediated growth is proposed for the first time for this material system to reduce this background doping and preliminary results are presented.

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Date Created
  • 2017

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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

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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Date Created
  • 2012