skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: Reduced Cu(InGa)Se2 Thickness in Solar Cells Using a Superstrate Configuration

This project by the Institute of Energy Conversion (IEC) and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Delaware sought to develop the technology and underlying science to enable reduced cost of Cu(InGa)Se2 manufacturing by reducing the thickness of the Cu(InGa)Se2 absorber layer by half compared to typical production. The approach to achieve this was to use the superstrate cell configuration in which light is incident on the cell through the glass. This structure facilitates optical enhancement approaches needed to achieve high efficiency with Cu(InGa)Se2 thicknesses less than 1 µm. The primary objective was to demonstrate a Cu(InGa)Se2 cell with absorber thickness 0.5 - 0.7 µm and 17% efficiency, along with a quantitative loss analysis to define a pathway to 20% efficiency. Additional objectives were the development of stable TCO and buffer layers or contact layers to withstand the Cu(InGa)Se2 deposition temperature and of advanced optical enhancement methods. The underlying fundamental science needed to effectively transition these outcomes to large scale was addressed by extensive materials and device characterization and by development of comprehensive optical models. Two different superstrate configurations have been investigated. A frontwall cell is illuminated through the glass to the primary front junction ofmore » the device. This configuration has been used for previous efforts on superstrate Cu(InGa)Se2 but performance has been limited by interdiffusion or reaction with CdS or other buffer layers. In this project, several approaches to overcome these limitations were explored using CdS, ZnO and ZnSe buffer layers. In each case, mechanisms that limit device performance were identified using detailed characterization of the materials and junctions. Due to the junction formation difficulties, efforts were concentrated on a new backwall configuration in which light is incident through the substrate into the back of the absorber layer. The primary junction is then formed after Cu(InGa)Se2 deposition. This allows the potential benefits of superstrate cells for optical enhancement while maintaining processing advantages of the substrate configuration and avoiding the harmful effects of high temperature deposition on p-n junction formation. Backwall devices have outperformed substrate cells at absorber thicknesses of 0.1-0.5 µm through enhanced JSC due to easy incorporation of a Ag reflector and, with light incident on the absorber, the elimination of parasitic absorption in the CdS buffer. An efficiency of 9.7% has been achieved for a backwall Cu(InGa)Se2 device with absorber thickness ~0.4 μm. A critical achievement that enabled implementation of the backwall cell was the development of a transparent back contact using MoO3 or WO3. Processes for controlled deposition of each material by reactive rf sputtering from metal targets were developed. These contacts have wide bandgaps making them well-suited for application as contacts for backwall devices as well as potential use in bifacial cells and as the top cell of tandem CuInSe2-based devices. Optical enhancement will be critical for further improvements. Wet chemical texturing of ZnO films has been developed for a simple, low cost light-trapping scheme for backwall superstrate devices to enhance long wavelength quantum efficiency. An aqueous oxalic acid etch was developed and found to strongly texture sputtered ZnO with high haze ≈ 0.9 observed across the whole spectrum. And finally, advanced optical models have been developed to assist the characterization and optimization of Cu(InGa)Se2 cells with thin absorbers« less
  1. Univ. of Delaware, Newark, DE (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Univ. of Delaware, Newark, DE (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technologies Office (EE-4S)
Country of Publication:
United States
14 SOLAR ENERGY; 36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; 30 DIRECT ENERGY CONVERSION solar cells; thin films; CIGS; superstrate; reduced thickness; molybdenum oxide, light scattering; buffer layers