Wurtzite (In, Ga, Al) N semiconductors, especially InGaN material systems, demonstrate immense promises for the high efficiency thin ﬁlm photovoltaic (PV) applications for future generation. Their unique and intriguing merits include continuously tunable wide band gap from 0.70 eV to 3.4 eV, strong absorption coefficient on the order of ∼105 cm−1, superior radiation resistance under harsh environment, and high saturation velocities and high mobility. Calculation from the detailed balance model also revealed that in multi-junction (MJ) solar cell device, materials with band gaps higher than 2.4 eV are required to achieve PV efﬁciencies greater than 50%, which is practically and easily feasible for InGaN materials. Other state-of-art modeling on InGaN solar cells also demonstrate great potential for applications of III-nitride solar cells in four-junction solar cell devices as well as in the integration with a non-III-nitride junction in multi-junction devices.
This dissertation first theoretically analyzed loss mechanisms and studied the theoretical limit of PV performance of InGaN solar cells with a semi-analytical model. Then three device design strategies are proposed to study and improve PV performance: band polarization engineering, structural design and band engineering. Moreover, three physical mechanisms related to high temperature performance of InGaN solar cells have been thoroughly investigated: thermal reliability issue, enhanced external quantum efficiency (EQE) and conversion efficiency with rising temperatures and carrier dynamics and localization effects inside nonpolar m-plane InGaN quantum wells (QWs) at high temperatures. In the end several future work will also be proposed.
Although still in its infancy, past and projected future progress of device design will ultimately achieve this very goal that III-nitride based solar cells will be indispensable for today and future’s society, technologies and society.