Chapter 14: Electron Microscopy on Thin Films for Solar Cells

Daniel Abou-Ras, Melanie Nichterwitz, Sebastian Schmidt

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    This chapter overviews the various techniques applied in scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and highlights their possibilities and also limitations. It gives the various imaging and analysis techniques applied on a scanning electron microscope. The chapter shows that imaging is divided into that making use of secondary electrons (SEs) and of backscattered electrons (BSEs), resulting in different contrasts in the images and thus providing information on compositions, microstructures, and surface potentials. Whenever aiming for imaging and analyses at scales of down to the angstroms range, TEM and its related techniques are appropriate tools. In many cases, also SEM techniques provide the access to various material properties of the individual layers, not requiring specimen preparation as time consuming as TEM techniques. Finally, the chapter dedicates to cross-sectional specimen preparation for electron microscopy. The preparation decides indeed on the quality of imaging and analyses.
    Original languageAmerican English
    Title of host publicationAdvanced Characterization Techniques for Thin Film Solar Cells, Second Edition
    EditorsD. Abou-Ras, T. Kirchartz, U. Rau
    StatePublished - 2016

    NREL Publication Number

    • NREL/CH-5200-70375


    • backscattered electrons
    • conventional transmission electron microscopy
    • cross-sectional specimen preparation
    • imaging techniques
    • scanning electron microscopy
    • scanning transmission electron microscopy
    • secondary electrons
    • thin-film solar cells


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