Combinatorial Reactive Sputtering of In2S3 as an Alternative Contact Layer for Thin Film Solar Cells

Sebastian Siol, Andriy Zakutayev, Clay DeHart, Tara Dhakal, Gansesh Gudavalli, Pravakar Rajbhandari, Lauryn Baranowski

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74 Scopus Citations


High-throughput computational and experimental techniques have been used in the past to accelerate the discovery of new promising solar cell materials. An important part of the development of novel thin film solar cell technologies, that is still considered a bottleneck for both theory and experiment, is the search for alternative interfacial contact (buffer) layers. The research and development of contact materials is difficult due to the inherent complexity that arises from its interactions at the interface with the absorber. A promising alternative to the commonly used CdS buffer layer in thin film solar cells that contain absorbers with lower electron affinity can be found in β-In2S3. However, the synthesis conditions for the sputter deposition of this material are not well-established. Here, In2S3 is investigated as a solar cell contact material utilizing a high-throughput combinatorial screening of the temperature-flux parameter space, followed by a number of spatially resolved characterization techniques. It is demonstrated that, by tuning the sulfur partial pressure, phase pure β-In2S3 could be deposited using a broad range of substrate temperatures between 500 °C and ambient temperature. Combinatorial photovoltaic device libraries with Al/ZnO/In2S3/Cu2ZnSnS4/Mo/SiO2 structure were built at optimal processing conditions to investigate the feasibility of the sputtered In2S3 buffer layers and of an accelerated optimization of the device structure. The performance of the resulting In2S3/Cu2ZnSnS4 photovoltaic devices is on par with CdS/Cu2ZnSnS4 reference solar cells with similar values for short circuit currents and open circuit voltages, despite the overall quite low efficiency of the devices (∼2%). Overall, these results demonstrate how a high-throughput experimental approach can be used to accelerate the development of contact materials and facilitate the optimization of thin film solar cell devices.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)14004-14011
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number22
StatePublished - 8 Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-66247


  • buffer layer
  • combinatorial device studies
  • CZTS
  • high-throughput
  • InS thin films
  • reactive sputtering
  • thin film solar cells


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