Thin-film modules of all technologies often suffer from performance degradation over time. Some of the performance changes are reversible and some are not, which makes deployment, testing, and energy-yield prediction more challenging. The most commonly alleged causes of instability in CdTe device, such as “migration of Cu,” have been investigated rigorously over the past fifteen years. As all defects, intrinsic or extrinsic, interact with the electrical potential and free carriers so that charged defects may drift in the electric field and changing ionization state with excess free carriers. Such complexity of interactions in CdTe makes understanding of temporal changes in device performance even more challenging. The goal of the work in this dissertation is, thus, to eliminate the ambiguity between the observed performance changes under stress and their physical root cause by enabling a depth of modeling that takes account of diffusion and drift at the atomistic level coupled to the electronic subsystem responsible for a PV device’s function. The 1D Unified Solver, developed as part of this effort, enables us to analyze PV devices at a greater depth.
In this dissertation, the implementation of a drift-diffusion model defect migration simulator, development of an implicit reaction scheme for total mass conservation, and a couple of other numerical schemes to improve the overall flexibility and robustness of this coupled Unified Solver is discussed. Preliminary results on Cu (with or without Cl-treatment) annealing simulations in both single-crystal CdTe wafer and poly-crystalline CdTe devices show promising agreement to experimental findings, providing a new perspective in the research of improving doping concentration hence the open-circuit voltage of CdTe technology. Furthermore, on the reliability side, in agreement of previous experimental reports, simulation results suggest possibility of Cu depletion in short-circuited cells stressed at elevated temperature. The developed solver also successfully demonstrated that mobile donor migration can be used to explain solar cell performance changes under different stress conditions.