Solar cells based on electrodeposited thin films of ZnS, CdS, CdSSe and CdTe.

WEERASINGHE, Ajith R. (2013). Solar cells based on electrodeposited thin films of ZnS, CdS, CdSSe and CdTe. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

The motivations of this research were to produce increased efficiency and low-cost solar cells. The production efficiency of Si solar cells has almost reached their theoretical limit, and reducing the manufacturing cost of Si solar cells is difficult to achieve due to the high-energy usage in material purifying and processing stages. Due to the low usage of materials and input energy, thin film solar cells have the potential to reduce the costs. CdS/CdTe thin film solar cells are already the cheapest on $/W basis. The cost of CdTe solar cells can be further reduced if all the semiconducting layers are fabricated using the electrodeposition (ED) method. ED method is scalable, low in the usage of energy and raw materials. These benefits lead to the cost effective production of semiconductors. The conventional method of fabricating CdS layers produces Cd containing waste solutions routinely, which adds to the cost of solar cells.ZnS, CdS and CdS(i-X)Sex buffer and window layers and CdTe absorber layers have been successfully electrodeposited and explored under this research investigation. These layers were fully characterised using complementary techniques to evaluate the material properties. Photoelectrochemical (PEC) studies, optical absorption, X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX) spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy (AFM) and Raman spectroscopy were utilised to evaluate the material properties of these solid thin film layers. ZnS and CdS thin film layers were electrodeposited from Na-free chemical precursors to avoid the group I element (Na) to reduce deterioration of CdTe devices. Deposition parameters such as, growth substrates, temperature, pH, growth cathodic voltage, stirring rate, time and chemical concentrations were identified to fabricate the above semiconductors. To further optimise these layers, a heat treatment process specific to the material was developed. In addition, the deposition parameters of CdTe layers were further optimised. This research programme has demonstrated that electrodeposited ZnS, CdS and CdTe thin film layers have material characteristics comparable with those of the materials reported in the literature and can be used in thin film solar cell devices. Furthermore, the electrolytes were used for up to two years, reducing the wastage even further, in comparison to other fabrication methods, such as chemical bath deposition. Several large-area semiconducting layers were successfully fabricated to test the scalability of the method. Nano-rods perpendicular to the glass/FTO surface with gaps among grains in CdS layers were observed. In order to reduce the possible pinholes due the gaps, a deposition of a semiconducting layer to cover completely the substrate was investigated. CdS(i-X)Sex layers were investigated to produce a layer-by-layer deposition of the material. However it was observed the surface morphology of CdS(j.X)Sex is a function of the growth parameters which produced nano-wires, nano-tubes and nano-sheets. This is the first recording of this effect for a low temperature deposition method, minimising the cost of producing this highly photosensitive material for use in various nano technology applications.The basic structure experimented was glass/conducting-glass/buffer layer/window material/absorber material/metal. By utilising all the semiconducting layers developed, several solar cell device structures were designed, fabricated and tested. This included a novel all-electrodeposited multi-layer graded bandgap device, to enhance the absorption of solar photons. The device efficiencies varied from batch to batch, and efficiencies in the range (3-7)% were observed. The variations in chemical concentrations, surface states and the presence of pin-hole defects in CdS were the main reasons for the range of efficiencies obtained. In the future work section, ways to avoid these variations and to increase efficiencies are identified and presented.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis (Ph.D.)--Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), 2013.
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 17:22
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2018 11:24
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/20512

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