skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Controlling Metastable Native Point-Defect Populations in Cu(In,Ga)Se 2 and Cu 2ZnSnSe 4 Materials and Solar Cells through Voltage-Bias Annealing

Abstract

Our contribution describes the influence of low-temperature annealing with and without applied voltage bias on thin-film Cu 2ZnSnSe 4 (CZTSe), Cu(In,Ga)Se 2 (CIGS), and CdS material properties and solar cell performance. In order to quantify the effects of cation disorder on CZTSe device performance, completed devices were annealed under open-circuit conditions at various temperatures from 110 degrees C to 215 degrees C and subsequently quenched. Measurements on these devices document systematic, reversible changes in solar-cell performance consistent with a reduction in CZTSe band tails at lower annealing temperatures. CIGS and CZTSe solar cells were also annealed at various temperatures (200 degrees C for CIGS and 110 degrees C-215 degrees C for CZTSe) and subsequently quenched with continuously applied voltage bias to explore the effects of non-equilibrium annealing conditions. For both absorbers, large reversible changes in device characteristics correlated with the magnitude and sign of the applied voltage bias were observed. For CZTSe devices, the voltage-bias annealing (VBA) produced reversible changes in open-circuit voltage (VOC) from 289 meV to 446 meV. For CIGS solar cells, even larger changes were observed in device performance: photovoltaic (PV) conversion efficiency of the CIGS device varied from below 3% to above 15%, with corresponding changesmore » in CIGS hole density of about three orders of magnitude. Findings from these VBA experiments are interpreted in terms of changes to the metastable point-defect populations that control key properties in the absorber layers, and in the CdS buffer layer. Computational device modeling was performed to assess the impacts of cation disorder on the CZTSe VOC deficit, and to elucidate the effects of VBA treatments on metastable point defect populations in CZTSe, CIGS, and CdS. Our results indicate that band tails impose important limitations on CZTSe device performance. Device modeling results also indicate that non-equilibrium processing conditions including the effects of voltage bias can dramatically alter point-defect-mediated opto-electronic properties of semiconductors. Implications for optimization of PV materials and connections to long-term stability of PV devices are discussed.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technologies Office (EE-4S)
OSTI Identifier:
1343389
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1361736
Report Number(s):
NREL/JA-5K00-66964
Journal ID: ISSN 0021-8979; TRN: US1700915
Grant/Contract Number:
AC36-08GO28308
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Applied Physics
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 121; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 0021-8979
Publisher:
American Institute of Physics (AIP)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
14 SOLAR ENERGY; 71 CLASSICAL AND QUANTUM MECHANICS, GENERAL PHYSICS; solar cells; II-VI semiconductors; carrier density; materials properties; point defects

Citation Formats

Teeter, Glenn, Harvey, Steve P., and Johnston, Steve. Controlling Metastable Native Point-Defect Populations in Cu(In,Ga)Se2 and Cu2ZnSnSe4 Materials and Solar Cells through Voltage-Bias Annealing. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1063/1.4973959.
Teeter, Glenn, Harvey, Steve P., & Johnston, Steve. Controlling Metastable Native Point-Defect Populations in Cu(In,Ga)Se2 and Cu2ZnSnSe4 Materials and Solar Cells through Voltage-Bias Annealing. United States. doi:10.1063/1.4973959.
Teeter, Glenn, Harvey, Steve P., and Johnston, Steve. Mon . "Controlling Metastable Native Point-Defect Populations in Cu(In,Ga)Se2 and Cu2ZnSnSe4 Materials and Solar Cells through Voltage-Bias Annealing". United States. doi:10.1063/1.4973959. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1343389.
@article{osti_1343389,
title = {Controlling Metastable Native Point-Defect Populations in Cu(In,Ga)Se2 and Cu2ZnSnSe4 Materials and Solar Cells through Voltage-Bias Annealing},
author = {Teeter, Glenn and Harvey, Steve P. and Johnston, Steve},
abstractNote = {Our contribution describes the influence of low-temperature annealing with and without applied voltage bias on thin-film Cu2ZnSnSe4 (CZTSe), Cu(In,Ga)Se2 (CIGS), and CdS material properties and solar cell performance. In order to quantify the effects of cation disorder on CZTSe device performance, completed devices were annealed under open-circuit conditions at various temperatures from 110 degrees C to 215 degrees C and subsequently quenched. Measurements on these devices document systematic, reversible changes in solar-cell performance consistent with a reduction in CZTSe band tails at lower annealing temperatures. CIGS and CZTSe solar cells were also annealed at various temperatures (200 degrees C for CIGS and 110 degrees C-215 degrees C for CZTSe) and subsequently quenched with continuously applied voltage bias to explore the effects of non-equilibrium annealing conditions. For both absorbers, large reversible changes in device characteristics correlated with the magnitude and sign of the applied voltage bias were observed. For CZTSe devices, the voltage-bias annealing (VBA) produced reversible changes in open-circuit voltage (VOC) from 289 meV to 446 meV. For CIGS solar cells, even larger changes were observed in device performance: photovoltaic (PV) conversion efficiency of the CIGS device varied from below 3% to above 15%, with corresponding changes in CIGS hole density of about three orders of magnitude. Findings from these VBA experiments are interpreted in terms of changes to the metastable point-defect populations that control key properties in the absorber layers, and in the CdS buffer layer. Computational device modeling was performed to assess the impacts of cation disorder on the CZTSe VOC deficit, and to elucidate the effects of VBA treatments on metastable point defect populations in CZTSe, CIGS, and CdS. Our results indicate that band tails impose important limitations on CZTSe device performance. Device modeling results also indicate that non-equilibrium processing conditions including the effects of voltage bias can dramatically alter point-defect-mediated opto-electronic properties of semiconductors. Implications for optimization of PV materials and connections to long-term stability of PV devices are discussed.},
doi = {10.1063/1.4973959},
journal = {Journal of Applied Physics},
number = 4,
volume = 121,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Jan 30 00:00:00 EST 2017},
month = {Mon Jan 30 00:00:00 EST 2017}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 1work
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:
  • Here, we determined the electrical junction (EJ) locations in Cu(In,Ga)Se 2 (CIGS) and Cu 2ZnSnSe 4 (CZTS) solar cells with ~20-nm accuracy by developing scanning capacitance spectroscopy (SCS) applicable to the thin-film devices. Cross-sectional sample preparation for the SCS measurement was developed by high-energy ion milling at room temperature for polishing the cross section to make it flat, followed by low-energy ion milling at liquid nitrogen temperature for removing the damaged layer and subsequent annealing for growing a native oxide layer. The SCS shows distinct p-type, transitional, and n-type spectra across the devices, and the spectral features change rapidly withmore » location in the depletion region, which results in determining the EJ with ~20-nm resolution. We found an n-type CIGS in the region next to the CIGS/CdS interface; thus, the cell is a homojunction. The EJ is ~40 nm from the interface on the CIGS side. In contrast, such an n-type CZTS was not found in the CZTS/CdS cells. The EJ is ~20 nm from the CZTS/CdS interface, which is consistent with asymmetrical carrier concentrations of the p-CZTS and n-CdS in a heterojunction cell. Our results of unambiguously determination of the junction locations contribute significantly to understanding the large open-circuit voltage difference between CIGS and CZTS.« less
  • We investigate point defects in the buffer layers CdS and ZnS that may arise from intermixing with Cu(In,Ga)(S,Se){sub 2} (CIGS) or Cu{sub 2}ZnSn(S,Se){sub 4} (CZTS) absorber layers in thin-film photovoltaics. Using hybrid functional calculations, we characterize the electrical and optical behavior of Cu, In, Ga, Se, Sn, Zn, Na, and K impurities in the buffer. We find that In and Ga substituted on the cation site act as shallow donors in CdS and tend to enhance the prevailing n-type conductivity at the interface facilitated by Cd incorporation in CIGS, whereas they are deep donors in ZnS and will be lessmore » effective dopants. Substitutional In and Ga can favorably form complexes with cation vacancies (A-centers) which may contribute to the “red kink” effect observed in some CIGS-based devices. For CZTS absorbers, we find that Zn and Sn defects substituting on the buffer cation site are electrically inactive in n-type buffers and will not supplement the donor doping at the interface as in CIGS/CdS or ZnS devices. Sn may also preferentially incorporate on the S site as a deep acceptor in n-type ZnS, which suggests possible concerns with absorber-related interfacial compensation in CZTS devices with ZnS-derived buffers. Cu, Na, and K impurities are found to all have the same qualitative behavior, most favorably acting as compensating acceptors when substituting on the cation site. Our results suggest one beneficial role of K and Na incorporation in CIGS or CZTS devices is the partial passivation of vacancy-related centers in CdS and ZnS buffers, rendering them less effective interfacial hole traps and recombination centers.« less
  • We investigate point defects in CdS buffer layers that may arise from intermixing with Cu(In,Ga)Se{sub 2} (CIGSe) or Cu{sub 2}ZnSn(S,Se){sub 4} (CZTSSe) absorber layers in thin-film photovoltaics (PV). Using hybrid functional calculations, we characterize the migration barriers of Cu, In, Ga, Se, Sn, Zn, Na, and K impurities and assess the activation energies necessary for their diffusion into the bulk of the buffer. We find that Cu, In, and Ga are the most mobile defects in CIGS-derived impurities, with diffusion expected to proceed into the buffer via interstitial-hopping and cadmium vacancy-assisted mechanisms at temperatures ∼400 °C. Cu is predicted to stronglymore » favor migration paths within the basal plane of the wurtzite CdS lattice, which may facilitate defect clustering and ultimately the formation of Cu-rich interfacial phases as observed by energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopic elemental maps in real PV devices. Se, Zn, and Sn defects are found to exhibit much larger activation energies and are not expected to diffuse within the CdS bulk at temperatures compatible with typical PV processing temperatures. Lastly, we find that Na interstitials are expected to exhibit slightly lower activation energies than K interstitials despite having a larger migration barrier. Still, we find both alkali species are expected to diffuse via an interstitially mediated mechanism at slightly higher temperatures than enable In, Ga, and Cu diffusion in the bulk. Our results indicate that processing temperatures in excess of ∼400 °C will lead to more interfacial intermixing with CdS buffer layers in CIGSe devices, and less so for CZTSSe absorbers where only Cu is expected to significantly diffuse into the buffer.« less
  • Crystallographic, optical, and electrical properties of defect chalcopyrite Cu(In{sub 1{minus}x}Ga{sub x}){sub 3}Se{sub 5} (0 < x < 1) materials in polycrystalline thin-film form are reported. Also, an energy band alignment between such materials and CdS has been calculated from X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy data. A comparison of some properties against published data on similarly prepared chalcopyrite CuIn{sub 1{minus}x}Ga{sub x}Se{sub 2} absorber materials is presented. Considering the chalcopyrite/defect chalcopyrite junction model, the authors postulate that the traditionally poor device performance of uniform high-Ga-content absorbers (x > 0.3) is due to a relatively inferior character--both structural and electrical--at the very chalcopyrite/defect chalcopyrite interface.more » They demonstrate that this situation can be circumvented (for absorbers with x > 0.3) by properly engineering such an interface by reducing Ga content in the region near the surface of the absorber.« less