Guided Optimization of Phase-Unstable III-V Compositionally Graded Buffers by Cathodoluminescence Spectrum Imaging

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Compositionally graded buffers (CGBs) are essential components of high-efficiency III-V inverted metamorphic solar cells, and high-quality CGBs with low defect densities are a requirement for high device efficiencies. In this article, we use plan-view and cross-sectional cathodoluminescence spectrum imaging (CLSI) to investigate the effect of growth conditions on the microstructure of AlyGa1-x-yInxAs CGBs with xIn > 0.30. CLSI reveals significant compositional fluctuation in these materials that correlates with the distribution of threading dislocations in the CGBs. Threading dislocations are observed to collect in regions between abrupt transitions in emission energy, implying that concomitant strain fluctuations in these regions restrict dislocation motion. Thus, the compositional fluctuation leads to elevated threading dislocation densities that degrade CGB quality. We also correlate compositional fluctuation in the CGB with compositional fluctuation in subsequently grown device layers. The effectiveness of specific growth conditions at suppressing compositional fluctuation and limiting threading dislocation density is evaluated. CGBs grown at high temperatures with high Al content exhibit the lowest defect densities. The use of a high V/III ratio suppresses compositional fluctuation and defect density. These insights lead directly to improvements in the efficiency of metamorphic Ga1-xInxAs solar cells grown on AlyGa1-x-yInxAs CGBs.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number8915740
Pages (from-to)109-116
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2011-2012 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-75338


  • Indium gallium arsenide
  • luminescence
  • photo- voltaic cells
  • scanning electron microscopy


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