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Title: In-situ X-Ray Analysis of Rapid Thermal Processing for Thin-Film Solar Cells: Closing the Gap between Production and Laboratory Efficiency

Abstract

For materials synthesis, it is well known that the material final state may not reach equilibrium and depends on the synthetic process. In particular, processes that quickly remove the available energy from the material may leave it in a metastable state and the metastability may actually impart desirable functional properties. By its very nature, Rapid thermal processing (RTP) is ideally suited to produce such metastable materials. However, metastability and the dynamics of reaching a metastable state are poorly understood, since this is best accomplished through in situ monitoring. In this regard, RTP is particularly challenging as the processing time are very short (seconds to minutes). As a result, there is only poor understanding, and hence use, of RTP in industry. This is potentially a cost-increasing limitation, because RTP can decrease cost by decreasing processing time, and as such, increase throughput and decrease the total thermal budget of processing - a significant cost. RTP is already being used for key processing steps in PV technologies. With silicon wafer PV, it is used for establishing electrical contact between the Ag metal grid and the silicon (known as firing). In this process, a silicon wafer with deposited metal/frit in a grid pattern ismore » heated rapidly to temperatures between 750 and 800 ºC. The processing time when the temperature is held above 600ºC is short (<5 seconds). This process has historically been optimized empirically and it is unclear how the thermal processing affects formation of the final contact between the metal and the silicon. In the case of thin-film PV, RTP has been demonstrated in the process of making absorber layers, i.e. CIGS and CZTS. Use of RTP can reduce the processing time from 10s of minutes to seconds, reducing the thermal budget and increasing the throughput significantly. The conversion from precursor material to final PV material is not well understood, and most of the process optimization is done empirically. Again, the proposed in situ monitoring will provide insight into the conversion process. We have developed a unique instrument for in situ monitoring of the reaction process during RTP. The most fundamental property to monitor is the atomic arrangement (for solids, crystalline structure) and thus we have focused on this property. The chamber was designed to collect X-ray diffraction (XRD) for crystal phase determination, although it has lent insight in the formation of liquids. We designed and constructed both inert (air) and reactive (S/Se) versions of this chamber. We have applied the RTP-XRD methodology to: silicon solar cell electrical contact formation; the reaction sequence for forming CIGS PV thin films from copper selenide and indium gallium selenide precursors; the phase sequence for forming HC(NH2)2PbI3 (FAPbI3) and CH3NH3PbI3 (MAPbI3) hybrid-perovskite PV thin films. The RTP instrument enables real-time collection of X-ray diffraction data with intervals as short as 100 ms, and while heating at ramp rates as high 100 ºCs-1 up to 1200 ºC. The system is portable and can be installed on a synchrotron beamline. The RTP reactor consists of a metallic body (front cap assembly, central block and end cap assembly) that houses a quartz reaction chamber. The sample is secured inside the reaction chamber on a sample holder connected to the front-cap assembly. Modifications of the chamber were made for safely handling sulfur and selenium vapor environments. A Se/S source holder was added to generate a Se/S over pressure in the chamber on heating and the entrance window is made wider in order to accommodate the detachable additional holder. Se/S are toxic in nature and therefore a proper Se/S trapping is used before releasing the gases to exhaust. Screen-printing provides an economically attractive means for making Ag electrical contacts to Si solar cells, but the use of Ag substantiates a significant manufacturing cost, and the glass frit used in the paste to enable contact formation contains Pb. To achieve optimal electrical performance and to develop pastes with alternative, abundant, and non-toxic materials requires understanding the contact formation process during firing. We use the RTP-XRD chamber during firing of Ag-Si contacts to reveal the reaction sequence for contact formation. The findings show that between 500 ºC and 650 ºC PbO in the frit etches the SiNx antireflective-coating on the solar cell, exposing the Si surface. Then, above 650 ºC, Ag+ dissolves into the molten glass frit – key for enabling deposition of metallic Ag on the emitter surface and precipitation of Ag nanocrystals within the glass. This clarifies contact formation mechanisms and can be used to suggest approaches for development of inexpensive, nontoxic solar cell contacting pastes. We used the RTP/XRD chamber to study the formation of CuInGaS/Se (CIGS) PV films by in-situ selenization of pre-deposited metal stacks and annealing of pre-deposited Cu-In-Ga-Se precursors. During the metal stack selenization, we observed that Se first reacts with the metals and forms selenides. We observed formation of intermetallics such as Cu2In and binary selenides during heating. On further annealing in a Se atmosphere, CuInSe2 and CuGaSe2 forms which on heating up to 550 °C reacts further to form the CIGS phase. On prolonged exposure to 550 °C for more than 5 mins or higher temperature, we see separation into Ga-rich and Ga-depleted CIGS phases. On introducing a holding step at 400 °C for 10 min during the annealing ramp, the CIGS phase (forms between 500-550 °C), appears to be less prone to decomposition into high-Ga and low-Ga phases during holding at peak temperature. Lead halide perovskites have emerged as successful optoelectronic materials with high photovoltaic power conversion efficiencies and low material cost. However, substantial challenges remain in the scalability, stability and fundamental understanding of the materials. We demonstrated the application of radiative thermal annealing, an easily scalable processing method, for synthesizing formamidinium lead iodide (FAPbI3) perovskite solar absorbers. Devices fabricated from films formed via radiative thermal annealing have equivalent efficiencies to those annealed using a conventional hotplate. By coupling results from in situ x-ray diffraction using a radiative thermal annealing system with device performances, we mapped the processing phase space of FAPbI3 and corresponding device efficiencies. Our map of processing-structure-performance space suggests the commonly used FAPbI3 annealing time, 10 min at 170 °C, can be significantly reduced to 40 s at 170 °C without affecting the photovoltaic performance. Applying the Johnson-Mehl-Avrami model to the decomposition into PbI2, the activation energy was determined. We also presented a well-controlled, manufacturing relevant annealing method, radiative thermal annealing, for the methylammonium lead triiodide films formed by solvent engineering process, with dimethylformamide (DMF) and dimethyl sulfoxide as solvent and diethyl ether as the antisolvent. Radiative thermal annealing can produce high quality perovskite films, evidenced by high efficiency solar cell devices, in a shorter time than the widely-used hotplate annealing. Using in-situ x-ray diffraction during the radiative annealing, we show that the role of the antisolvent is not to form an intermediate compound (a methylammonium iodide, lead iodide, and dimethyl sulfoxide compound) by washing of the main solvent (DMF) but to achieve a pin-hole free, uniform film of methylammonium lead iodide. We find that having the intermediate compound does not guarantee a high quality (pin-hole free) perovskite film. Our study was extended to reveal the effect of annealing environment, annealing temperature profile, and deposition substrate.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2]
  1. SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
  2. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Stanford Univ., CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1395583
Report Number(s):
DOE-SLAC-0005951
DOE Contract Number:
EE0005951
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; 36 MATERIALS SCIENCE

Citation Formats

Toney, Michael F., and van Hest, Maikel F. A. M.. In-situ X-Ray Analysis of Rapid Thermal Processing for Thin-Film Solar Cells: Closing the Gap between Production and Laboratory Efficiency. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.2172/1395583.
Toney, Michael F., & van Hest, Maikel F. A. M.. In-situ X-Ray Analysis of Rapid Thermal Processing for Thin-Film Solar Cells: Closing the Gap between Production and Laboratory Efficiency. United States. doi:10.2172/1395583.
Toney, Michael F., and van Hest, Maikel F. A. M.. Tue . "In-situ X-Ray Analysis of Rapid Thermal Processing for Thin-Film Solar Cells: Closing the Gap between Production and Laboratory Efficiency". United States. doi:10.2172/1395583. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1395583.
@article{osti_1395583,
title = {In-situ X-Ray Analysis of Rapid Thermal Processing for Thin-Film Solar Cells: Closing the Gap between Production and Laboratory Efficiency},
author = {Toney, Michael F. and van Hest, Maikel F. A. M.},
abstractNote = {For materials synthesis, it is well known that the material final state may not reach equilibrium and depends on the synthetic process. In particular, processes that quickly remove the available energy from the material may leave it in a metastable state and the metastability may actually impart desirable functional properties. By its very nature, Rapid thermal processing (RTP) is ideally suited to produce such metastable materials. However, metastability and the dynamics of reaching a metastable state are poorly understood, since this is best accomplished through in situ monitoring. In this regard, RTP is particularly challenging as the processing time are very short (seconds to minutes). As a result, there is only poor understanding, and hence use, of RTP in industry. This is potentially a cost-increasing limitation, because RTP can decrease cost by decreasing processing time, and as such, increase throughput and decrease the total thermal budget of processing - a significant cost. RTP is already being used for key processing steps in PV technologies. With silicon wafer PV, it is used for establishing electrical contact between the Ag metal grid and the silicon (known as firing). In this process, a silicon wafer with deposited metal/frit in a grid pattern is heated rapidly to temperatures between 750 and 800 ºC. The processing time when the temperature is held above 600ºC is short (<5 seconds). This process has historically been optimized empirically and it is unclear how the thermal processing affects formation of the final contact between the metal and the silicon. In the case of thin-film PV, RTP has been demonstrated in the process of making absorber layers, i.e. CIGS and CZTS. Use of RTP can reduce the processing time from 10s of minutes to seconds, reducing the thermal budget and increasing the throughput significantly. The conversion from precursor material to final PV material is not well understood, and most of the process optimization is done empirically. Again, the proposed in situ monitoring will provide insight into the conversion process. We have developed a unique instrument for in situ monitoring of the reaction process during RTP. The most fundamental property to monitor is the atomic arrangement (for solids, crystalline structure) and thus we have focused on this property. The chamber was designed to collect X-ray diffraction (XRD) for crystal phase determination, although it has lent insight in the formation of liquids. We designed and constructed both inert (air) and reactive (S/Se) versions of this chamber. We have applied the RTP-XRD methodology to: silicon solar cell electrical contact formation; the reaction sequence for forming CIGS PV thin films from copper selenide and indium gallium selenide precursors; the phase sequence for forming HC(NH2)2PbI3 (FAPbI3) and CH3NH3PbI3 (MAPbI3) hybrid-perovskite PV thin films. The RTP instrument enables real-time collection of X-ray diffraction data with intervals as short as 100 ms, and while heating at ramp rates as high 100 ºCs-1 up to 1200 ºC. The system is portable and can be installed on a synchrotron beamline. The RTP reactor consists of a metallic body (front cap assembly, central block and end cap assembly) that houses a quartz reaction chamber. The sample is secured inside the reaction chamber on a sample holder connected to the front-cap assembly. Modifications of the chamber were made for safely handling sulfur and selenium vapor environments. A Se/S source holder was added to generate a Se/S over pressure in the chamber on heating and the entrance window is made wider in order to accommodate the detachable additional holder. Se/S are toxic in nature and therefore a proper Se/S trapping is used before releasing the gases to exhaust. Screen-printing provides an economically attractive means for making Ag electrical contacts to Si solar cells, but the use of Ag substantiates a significant manufacturing cost, and the glass frit used in the paste to enable contact formation contains Pb. To achieve optimal electrical performance and to develop pastes with alternative, abundant, and non-toxic materials requires understanding the contact formation process during firing. We use the RTP-XRD chamber during firing of Ag-Si contacts to reveal the reaction sequence for contact formation. The findings show that between 500 ºC and 650 ºC PbO in the frit etches the SiNx antireflective-coating on the solar cell, exposing the Si surface. Then, above 650 ºC, Ag+ dissolves into the molten glass frit – key for enabling deposition of metallic Ag on the emitter surface and precipitation of Ag nanocrystals within the glass. This clarifies contact formation mechanisms and can be used to suggest approaches for development of inexpensive, nontoxic solar cell contacting pastes. We used the RTP/XRD chamber to study the formation of CuInGaS/Se (CIGS) PV films by in-situ selenization of pre-deposited metal stacks and annealing of pre-deposited Cu-In-Ga-Se precursors. During the metal stack selenization, we observed that Se first reacts with the metals and forms selenides. We observed formation of intermetallics such as Cu2In and binary selenides during heating. On further annealing in a Se atmosphere, CuInSe2 and CuGaSe2 forms which on heating up to 550 °C reacts further to form the CIGS phase. On prolonged exposure to 550 °C for more than 5 mins or higher temperature, we see separation into Ga-rich and Ga-depleted CIGS phases. On introducing a holding step at 400 °C for 10 min during the annealing ramp, the CIGS phase (forms between 500-550 °C), appears to be less prone to decomposition into high-Ga and low-Ga phases during holding at peak temperature. Lead halide perovskites have emerged as successful optoelectronic materials with high photovoltaic power conversion efficiencies and low material cost. However, substantial challenges remain in the scalability, stability and fundamental understanding of the materials. We demonstrated the application of radiative thermal annealing, an easily scalable processing method, for synthesizing formamidinium lead iodide (FAPbI3) perovskite solar absorbers. Devices fabricated from films formed via radiative thermal annealing have equivalent efficiencies to those annealed using a conventional hotplate. By coupling results from in situ x-ray diffraction using a radiative thermal annealing system with device performances, we mapped the processing phase space of FAPbI3 and corresponding device efficiencies. Our map of processing-structure-performance space suggests the commonly used FAPbI3 annealing time, 10 min at 170 °C, can be significantly reduced to 40 s at 170 °C without affecting the photovoltaic performance. Applying the Johnson-Mehl-Avrami model to the decomposition into PbI2, the activation energy was determined. We also presented a well-controlled, manufacturing relevant annealing method, radiative thermal annealing, for the methylammonium lead triiodide films formed by solvent engineering process, with dimethylformamide (DMF) and dimethyl sulfoxide as solvent and diethyl ether as the antisolvent. Radiative thermal annealing can produce high quality perovskite films, evidenced by high efficiency solar cell devices, in a shorter time than the widely-used hotplate annealing. Using in-situ x-ray diffraction during the radiative annealing, we show that the role of the antisolvent is not to form an intermediate compound (a methylammonium iodide, lead iodide, and dimethyl sulfoxide compound) by washing of the main solvent (DMF) but to achieve a pin-hole free, uniform film of methylammonium lead iodide. We find that having the intermediate compound does not guarantee a high quality (pin-hole free) perovskite film. Our study was extended to reveal the effect of annealing environment, annealing temperature profile, and deposition substrate.},
doi = {10.2172/1395583},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue Feb 21 00:00:00 EST 2017},
month = {Tue Feb 21 00:00:00 EST 2017}
}

Technical Report:

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  • This research program is directed toward the advancement of understanding of amorphous silicon-based alloys and their use in small area multi-junction solar cells. The program is divided into subtasks on materials research, single-junction solar cell research, and multi-junction solar cell research. In this report we discuss progress made during the period from March through August 1989. A major focus of the program was to achieve improvement in the performance of the back reflector and the antireflection coating to optimize cell performance. Computer simulation work was also carried out to analyze performance trade-offs between triple and tandem a-Si alloy solar cells.more » 10 refs., 27 figs., 5 tabs.« less
  • This research program is directed toward the advancement of understanding of amorphous silicon-based alloys and their use in small area multi-junction solar cells. The principal objectives of the program are: (i) to develop a broad scientific base for the chemical, structural, optical and electronic properties of amorphous silicon-based alloys; (ii) to determine the optimum properties of these alloy materials as they relate to high efficiency cells; (iii) to determine the optimum device configuration for multi-junction cells; and (iv) to demonstrate by the end of February, 1990 the proof-of-concept multi-junction amorphous silicon alloy-based solar cells having an efficiency of 16% undermore » standard global AM1.5 solar insolation conditions and having an area of at least 1 cm{sup 2}. 23 refs., 49 figs., 10 tabs.« less
  • This report presents results of research on advancing our understanding of amorphous-silicon-based alloys and their use in small-area multijunction solar cells. The principal objectives of the program are to develop a broad scientific base for the chemical, structural, optical, and electronic properties of amorphous-silicon-based alloys; to determine the optimum properties of these alloy materials as they relate to high-efficiency cells; to determine the optimum device configuration for multijunction cells; and to demonstrate proof-of-concept, multijunction, a-Si-alloy-based solar cells with 18% efficiency under standard AM1.5 global insolation conditions and with an area of at least 1 cm{sup 2}. A major focus ofmore » the work done during this reporting period was the optimization of a novel, multiple-graded structure that enhances cell efficiency through band-gap profiling. The principles of the operation of devices incorporating such a structure, computer simulations of those, and experimental results for both single- and multijunction cells prepared by using the novel structure are discussed in detail. 14 refs., 35 figs., 7 tabs.« less
  • This report describes the first year of progress in research directed toward material development, single-junction solar cell research, and deployment of high-efficiency multijunction solar cells prepared of alloys of amorphous silicon. High-quality a-SiGe alloys were made with a band gap of 1.4 eV. Incorporation of this material in tandem and triple-junction cells resulted in the world's highest efficiency a-Si based alloy thin-film solar cells to date. Efficiencies of 12.7% for dual-gap tandem and 13.6% for dual-gap triple cells were measured under global AM1.5 illumination at 25/degree/C. Further optimization of materials and device designs should result in efficiencies of about 15%more » during Phase II of the program. 21 refs., 51 figs., 19 tabs.« less
  • The research program described in this report is directed toward advancing our understanding of amorphous-silicon-based alloys and their use in small-area multijunction solar cells. Its principal objectives are (1) to develop a broad scientific base for the chemical, structural, optical, and electronic properties of a-Si based alloys; (2) to determine the optimum properties of alloys materials as they relate to high-efficiency cells; (3) to determine the optimum device configuration for multijunction cells; and (4) to demonstrate a proof-of-concept multijunction a-Si alloy-based solar cell having an efficiency of 18% under standard AM1.5 global insolation conditions and having an area of atmore » least 1 cmS. This semiannual report describes some of the research results obtained in Phase I. 20 refs., 37 figs., 10 tabs.« less