Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Engineering

Department

Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Vijay Singh

Abstract

We demonstrate the use of embedded CdS nanowires in improving spectral transmission loss and the low mechanical and electrical robustness of planar CdS window layer and thus enhancing the quantum efficiency and the reliability of the CdS-CdTe solar cells. CdS nanowire window layer enables light transmission gain at 300nm-550nm. A nearly ideal spectral response of quantum efficiency at a wide spectrum range provides an evidence for improving light transmission in the window layer and enhancing absorption and carrier generation in absorber. Nanowire CdS/CdTe solar cells with Cu/graphite/silver paste as back contacts, on SnO2/ITO-soda lime glass substrates, yield the highest efficiency of 12% in nanostructured CdS-CdTe solar cells. Reliability is improved by approximately 3 times over the cells with the traditional planar CdS counterpart. Junction transport mechanisms are delineated for advancing the basic understanding of device physics at the interface. Our results prove the efficacy of this nanowire approach for enhancing the quantum efficiency and the reliability in window-absorber type solar cells (CdS-CdTe, CdS-CIGS and CdS-CZTSSe etc) and other optoelectronic devices.

We further introduce MoO3-x as a transparent, low barrier back contact. We design nanowire CdS-CdTe solar cells on flexible foils of metals in a superstrate device structure, which makes low-cost roll-to-roll manufacturing process feasible and greatly reduces the complexity of fabrication. The MoO3 layer reduces the valence band offset relative to the CdTe, and creates improved cell performance. Annealing as-deposited MoO3 in N2 reduces series resistance from 9.98 Ω/cm2 to 7.72 Ω/cm2, and hence efficiency of the nanowire solar cell is improved from 9.9% to 11%, which efficiency comparable to efficiency of planar counterparts. When the nanowire solar cell is illuminated from MoO3-x /Au side, it yields an efficiency of 8.7%. This reduction in efficiency is attributed to decrease in Jsc from 25.5mA/cm2 to 21mA/cm2 due to light transmission loss in the MoO3-x /Au electrode. Even though these nanowire solar cells, when illuminated from back side exhibit better performance than that of nanopillar CdS-CdTe solar cells, further development of transparent back contacts of CdTe could enable a low-cost roll-to-roll fabrication process for the superstrate structure-nanowire solar cells on Al foil substrate.

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