Molecular Beam Epitaxy of Monocrystalline GaAs on Water-Soluble NaCl Thin Films

Brelon May, Jae Jin Kim, Evan Wong, Patrick Walker, William McMahon, Helio Moutinho, Aaron Ptak, David Young

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The goal of this project was to demonstrate the feasibility of employing an epitaxial NaCl thin film as a water-soluble release layer for III-V photovoltaic devices and GaAs substrate reuse. Over the course of this project efforts were focused on: achieving crystalline NaCl thin films on GaAs (100) substrate, exploring the growth parameters for subsequent GaAs on NaCl thin films in effort to improve crystallinity of the semiconductor layer, deposition and removal of single crystalline solar cell devices from the parent substrate, and improving morphology and reducing large scale defects in the removed layers to fabricate a working a solar cell device. There was no previous work on direct integration of GaAs/NaCl/GaAs heterostructures at the time of this study. We used molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) to deposit both the alkali halide salt and subsequent III-V material in the same chamber, with no vacuum break. Single crystalline GaAs films were achieved on NaCl layers through careful tuning of the growth parameters and exposure to the reflection high energy electron diffraction (RHEED) beam. Dissolution of the NaCl layer in water provided rapid release of the semiconductor layer from the substrate. Monocrystalline solar cells were grown on the III-V templates using MBE and dynamic hydride vapor phase epitaxy (HVPE). However, the extended time at elevated temperatures required for the cell growth resulted in large area defects from fusion of the semiconductor overlayer to the substrate, causing shorts in fabricated devices. By changing the way that the template layer was grown, the density of these defects could be reduced. Unfortunately, the defects were not reduced to a level allowing for fabrication of a working device.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages67
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5900-83678


  • GaAs
  • HVPE
  • hydride vapor phase epitaxy
  • MBE
  • molecular beam epitaxy
  • monocrystalline solar cell
  • NaCl
  • photovoltaic
  • PV
  • solar cell
  • thin film


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