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  1. Exciton photoluminescence is observed in disordered zinc tin nitride as a result of benign defect complex formation encouraged by annealing.
  2. Emerging photovoltaic materials need to prove their viability by demonstrating excellent electronic properties. In ternary and multinary semiconductors, disorder and off-stoichiometry often cause defects that limit the potential for high-efficiency solar cells. We report on Zn-rich ZnSnN 2 (Zn/(Zn + Sn) = 0.67) photoluminescence, high-resolution X-ray diffraction, and electronic structure calculations based on Monte-Carlo structural models. The mutual compensation of Zn excess and O incorporation affords a desirable reduction of the otherwise degenerate n-type doping, but also leads to a strongly off-stoichiometric and disordered atomic structure. It is therefore remarkable that we observe only near-edge photoluminescence from well-resolved excitons andmore » shallow donors and acceptors. Based on first principles calculations, this result is explained by the mutual passivation of Zn Sn and O N defects that renders both electronically benign. The calculated bandgaps range between 1.4 and 1.8 eV, depending on the degree of non-equilibrium disorder. The experimentally determined value of 1.5 eV in post-deposition annealed samples falls within this interval, indicating that further bandgap engineering by disorder control should be feasible via appropriate annealing protocols.« less
  3. Cd-rich composition and group-V element doping are of interest for simultaneously maximizing the hole concentration and minority carrier lifetime in CdTe, but the critical details concerning point defects are not yet fully established. Herein, we report on the properties of arsenic doped CdTe single crystals grown from Cd solvent by the travelling heater method. The photoluminescence spectra and activation energy of 74 +/- 2 meV derived from the temperature-dependent Hall effect are consistent with AsTe as the dominant acceptor. Doping in the 10^16 to 10^17/cm^3 range is achieved for measured As concentrations between 10^16 and 10^20/cm^3 with the highest dopingmore » efficiency of 40% occurring near 10^17 As/cm^3. We observe persistent photoconductivity, a hallmark of light-induced metastable configuration changes consistent with AX behavior. Additionally, quenching experiments reveal at least two mechanisms of increased p-type doping in the dark, one decaying over 2-3 weeks and the other persisting for at least 2 months. These results provide essential insights for the application of As-doped CdTe in thin film solar cells.« less
  4. Reducing recombination in polycrystalline solar cells by orders of magnitude is currently one of the greatest challenges for increasing thin-film solar cell efficiency to theoretical limits. The question of how to do this has been a challenge for the thin-film community for decades. This work indicates that effective interface passivation is critical. Here, polycrystalline Al 2O 3/CdSeTe/Al 2O 3/glass heterostructures are grown, and a combination of spectroscopic, microscopic, and time-resolved electro-optical measurements demonstrates that the interface recombination velocity at alumina/thin-film interfaces can be less than 100 cm/s. This is three orders of magnitude less than typical CdTe interfaces without passivation,more » commensurate with single-crystal epitaxial CdMgSeTe/CdSeTe/CdMgSeTe double heterostructures, and enables minority-carrier lifetimes in polycrystalline CdSeTe well above 100 ns. Microscopic interfacial electric-field measurements identify the field effect as a potential mechanism for polycrystalline Al 2O 3/CdSeTe interface passivation. Furthermore, the results provide guidance for modeling and interface passivation in devices and indicate future paths to realize highly efficient thin-film solar cells.« less
  5. We determine the grain-boundary (GB) recombination velocity, S GB, and grain-interior (GI) lifetime, t GI, parameters in superstrate CdS/CdTe thin-film solar cell technology by combining cathodoluminescence (CL) spectrum imaging and time-resolved photoluminescence (TRPL) measurements. We consider critical device formation stages, including after CdTe deposition, CdCl 2 treatment, and Cu diffusion. CL image analysis methods extract GB and GI intensities and grain size for hundreds of grains per sample. Concurrently, a three-dimensional CL model is developed to simulate the GI intensity as a function of t GI, S GB, grain size, and the surface recombination velocity, S surf. TRPL measurements providemore » an estimate of S surf for the CL model. A fit of GI intensity vs. grain size data with the CL model gives a self-consistent and representative set of S GB and t GI values for the samples: S GB (t GI) = 2.6 x 10 6 cm/s (68-250 ps), S GB(t GI) = 4.1 x 10 5 cm/s (1.5-3.3 ns), and S GB (t GI) = 5.5 x 10 5 cm/s (1.0-3.8 ns) for as-deposited, CdCl 2-treated, and CdCl 2- A nd Cu-treated samples, respectively. Thus, we find that the CdCl2 treatment both helps to passivate GBs and significantly increase the GI lifetime. Subsequent Cu diffusion increases GB recombination slightly and has nuanced effects on the GI lifetime. Finally, as a partial check on the S GB and t GI values, they are input to a Sentaurus device model, and the simulated performance is compared to the measured performance. The methodology developed here can be applied broadly to CdTe and CdSeTe thin-film technology and to other thin-film solar cell materials including Cu(In 1-xGa x)Se 2, Cu 2ZnSnS 4, and perovskites.« less
  6. Here, Group-V element doping is promising for simultaneously maximizing the hole concentration and minority carrier lifetime in CdTe for thin film solar cells, but there are roadblocks concerning point defects including the possibility of self-compensation by AX metastability. Herein, we report on doping, lifetime, and mobility of CdTe single crystals doped with As between 10 16 and 10 20 cm –3 grown from the Cd solvent by the travelling heater method. Evidence consistent with AX instability as a major contributor to compensation in samples doped below 10 17 cm –3 is presented, while for higher-doped samples, precipitation of a secondmore » phase on planar structural defects is also observed and may explain spatial variation in properties such as lifetime. Rapid cooling after crystal growth increases doping efficiency and mobility for times up to 20–30 days at room temperature with the highest efficiencies observed close to 45% and a hole mobility of 70 cm 2/Vs at room temperature. A doping limit in the low 10 17/cm 3 range is observed for samples quenched at 200–300 °C/h. Bulk minority carrier lifetimes exceeding 20 ns are observed for samples doped near 10 16 cm –3 relaxed in the dark and for unintentionally doped samples, while a lifetime of nearly 5 ns is observed for 10 18 cm –3 As doping. These results help us to establish limits on properties expected for group-V doped CdTe polycrystalline thin films for use in photovoltaics.« less
  7. We applied time-resolved pump-probe spectroscopy based on free carrier absorption and light diffraction on a transient grating for direct measurements of the carrier lifetime and diffusion coefficient D in high-resistivity single crystal CdTe (codoped with In and Er). The bulk carrier lifetime t decreased from 670 +/-50 ns to 60 +/- 10 ns with increase of excess carrier density N from 10 16 to 5 x 10 18cm -3 due to the excitation-dependent radiative recombination rate. In this N range, the carrier diffusion length dropped from 14 um to 6 um due to lifetime decrease. Modeling of in-depth (axial) andmore » in-plane (lateral) carrier diffusion provided the value of surface recombination velocity S = 6 x 10 5 cm/s for the untreated surface. At even higher excitations, in the 10 19-3 x 10 20 cm -3 density range, D increase from 5 to 20 cm^2/s due to carrier degeneracy was observed.« less
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  8. Two-photon excitation (2PE) microscopy allows contactless and non-destructive cross-sectional analysis of grain-boundary (GB) and grain-interior (GI) properties in polycrystalline solar cells, with measurements of doping uniformity, space-charge field distribution, and carrier dynamics in different regions of the device. Using 2PE time-resolved microscopy, we analyzed charge-carrier lifetimes near the GBs and in the GI of polycrystalline thin-film CdTe solar cells doped with As. When the grain radius is larger than the minority-carrier diffusion length, GI lifetimes are interpreted as the bulk lifetimes ..tau..B, and GB recombination velocity SGB is extracted by comparing recombination rates in the GI and near GBs. Inmore » As-doped CdTe solar cells, we find ..tau..B = 1.0-2.4 ns and S GB = (1-4) x 10 5 cm/s. The results imply the potential to improve solar cell voltage via GB passivation and reduced recombination center concentration in the GI.« less
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