Characterization and Modeling of Reverse-Bias Breakdown in Cu(In,Ga)Se2 Photovoltaic Devices

Harvey Guthrey, Steven Johnston, Andrew Norman, John Moseley, Mowafak Al-Jassim, Marco Nardone, Jun Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus Citations


Partial shading of series-connected thin-film photovoltaic modules can force shaded cells into reverse bias, which can cause rapid and irreversible power loss and reduce the practical module lifespan. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in field-deployed modules due to the myriad of environmental factors that can result in partial shading. In this work, we identify as-grown nonuniformities in the Cu(In,Ga)Se2 (CIGS) absorber layers as the points of origin for the damage induced under reverse-bias conditions. The structure and chemistry associated with inclusions and voids in the CIGS films cause these features to act as resistive heating elements in reverse-bias conditions. This localized resistive heating provides the energy required to induce thermal runaway breakdown in the CIGS devices, resulting in damage to charge collection and reduced active area of a device. This mechanism is also described with a robust device model to connect the experimental observations with their physical origins.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)812-823
Number of pages12
JournalProgress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-72230


  • CIGS solar cell
  • lock-in thermography
  • modeling
  • partial shading
  • reverse-bias breakdown


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