Novel Approaches for Wide Band Gap Solar Cells


Kyle H. Montgomery


PhD Dissertation, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, 2012.


Manuscript (pdf)
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Multijunction solar cells consisting of three, series-connected, p-n junctions represent the state-of-the-art in high efficiency solar cells, with record conversion efficiencies reaching >42% under concentrated sunlight. In the next step towards reaching ultra-high efficiencies of >50%, more junctions can be added. A model has been developed which shows optimized 4+ junction devices need a top subcell with a band gap of 2 to 2.2 eV. Due to several limiting factors, including lattice matching, compatibility with current-generation technologies, and doping limitations, few options are currently available for this wide band gap solar cell. In this work, novel approaches to deal with this problem were developed. First, while GaP has the potential for growth on low-cost Si substrates, it has typically been plagued by high surface recombination and low minority carrier lifetimes. A method was developed to improve the latter, by gettering in an Al-Ga melt at 975°C, resulting in a near doubling of the quantum efficiency across a range of wavelengths. Second, the heterovalent alloy ZnSe-GaAs was investigated both by LPE growth of the physical alloy and a superlattice-based “digital alloy.” Given that ZnSe, a direct band gap material with a band gap of 2.67 eV, is lattice-matched to GaAs, with a band gap of 1.42 eV, a ZnSe-GaAs alloy has the potential to be engineered with the desired band gap and grown with minimal dislocations. Third, the metal-insulator-semiconductor (MIS) solar cell was revisited with particular focus on use with III-V materials. For this study, the application to Al/p-GaAs Schottky diodes was explored, resulting in a barrier height approaching 1 eV.


solar cells, multijunctions, MIS, ZnSe-GaAs, superlattice, gettering, GaP



K. H. Montgomery, “Novel approaches for wide band gap solar cells,” Ph.D., Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, United States, 2012.