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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/29775

Title: A Study of the Degradation Mechanisms of Ultra Thin CIGS Solar Cells Submitted to a Damp Heat Environment
Authors: Kohl, Thierry
de Wild, Jessica
Rivas Rivas, Nicolas
Buldu, Dilara
Birant, Gizem
Brammertz, Guy
Renner, Frank Uwe
Meuris, Marc
Poortmans, Jef
Vermang, Bart
Issue Date: 2019
Citation: MRS Spring Meeting, Phoenix, 22/04/2019 - 26/04/2019
Abstract: On the way to achieving high efficiencies for CuIn0.7Ga0.3Se2 (CIGS) thin film solar cells, alkali doping has become a necessary step. However, it is expected that a migration of the various alkali atoms over the lifetime of the cell will lead to efficiency losses [1]. Logically, ensuring the reliability of a solar cell material is a paramount step towards the commercialization of a product. Indeed, it is necessary for companies to able to guarantee the efficiencies of the “as-sold” panels over periods of time that expand well over 20 or even 25 years. Experiments studying the reliability of the CIGS solar cells and their different components have already been performed in the past [1-4], nevertheless, the exact effects of alkali, and more generally, the precise reasons for, and effect of, the degradation, are still widely unknown. In order to evaluate the viability of some of the most common techniques used to produce highly efficient thin-film solar cells, ultra-thin coevaporated CIGS solar cell absorber material is produced and doped with various alkali atoms (Na, K, ...). The absorber material is deposited in ultra-thin (400-500nm) layers on soda-lime glass (SLG) equipped with a Si(O,N) diffusion barrier. By reducing the amount of bulk material, the aim is to reduce the concentration of defects in the material and limit their effects as much as possible. The barrier prevents the diffusion of alkali atoms from the SLG into the CIGS and allows for a better control of the concentration of alkali atoms in the layer. Additionally, it allows for a better isolation of the effects of the different alkalis by preventing an uncontrolled mix of alkali from being present in the absorber material. All alkalis are deposited in their fluoride form (NaF, KF, etc.) either by evaporation, prior to CIGS deposition, or by a post deposition treatment. We submitted the produced cells to highly degrading conditions in a damp heat environment. This aggressive setting is expected to simulate standard outdoor condition equivalent to 20 years in an experimentally reasonable timespan of a 1000 hours. We monitored the effects of the degradation by regular current-voltage (IV) measurements all along the 1000h experiment. These measurements showed a clear, and alkali concentration dependent, degradation of the solar cells as time increases. Using Atom Probe Tomography (APT) on degraded as well as on undegraded (reference) cells, it was possible to show that in the absence of a potential, the alkali atom migration is minimal, and that K can be mostly found in the grain boundary region of the absorber material. Given the lack of the expected alkali migration, the main reason for the degradation of the cells seems to be the presence of water that seeps into the grain boundaries of the solar cell material, which could also be observed using APT. The possibility to reverse that degradation mechanisms involving water inclusion is currently under investigation.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/29775
Category: C2
Type: Conference Material
Appears in Collections: Research publications

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