Evolution of Oxygenated Cadmium Sulfide (CdS:O) During High-Temperature CdTe Solar Cell Fabrication

Matthew Reese, Daniel Meysing, Wyatt Metzger, Teresa Barnes, Charles Warren, Ali Abbas, Hasitha Mahabaduge, John Walls, Mark Lonergan, Colin Wolden, James Burst

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34 Scopus Citations


Oxygenated cadmium sulfide (CdS:O) produced by reactive sputtering has emerged as a promising alternative to conventional CdS for use as the n-type window layer in CdTe solar cells. Here, complementary techniques are used to expose the window layer (CdS or CdS:O) in completed superstrate devices and combined with a suite of materials characterization to elucidate its evolution during high temperature device processing. During device fabrication amorphous CdS:O undergoes significant interdiffusion with CdTe and recrystallization, forming CdS1-yTey nanocrystals whose Te fraction approaches solubility limits. Significant oxygen remains after processing, concentrated in sulfate clusters dispersed among the CdS1-yTey alloy phase, accounting for ∼30% of the post-processed window layer based on cross-sectional microscopy. Interdiffusion and recrystallization are observed in devices with un-oxygenated CdS, but to a much lesser extent. Etching experiments suggest that the CdS thickness is minimally changed during processing, but the CdS:O window layer is reduced from 100 nm to 60-80 nm, which is confirmed by microscopy. Alloying reduces the band gap of the CdS:O window layer to 2.15 eV, but reductions in thickness and areal density improve its transmission spectrum, which is well matched to device quantum efficiency. The changes to the window layer in the reactive environments of device fabrication are profoundly different than what occurs by thermal annealing in an inert environment, which produced films with a band gap of 2.4 eV for both CdS and CdS:O. These results illustrate for the first time the significant changes that occur to the window layer during processing that are critical to the performance of CdTe solar cells.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)276-285
Number of pages10
JournalSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-66695


  • Cadmium sulfide
  • Cadmium telluride
  • Characterization
  • Interdiffusion
  • Liftoff
  • Oxygen


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