Nanometer-Scale Electrical Potential Imaging on Absorber of CdSeTe Solar Cells

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We report on nm-scale electrical potential imaging throughout As-doped and Cu-doped CdSeTe absorbers using Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM). The potential imaging was conducted both laterally and vertically on beveled films using ion milling at small glancing angle. KPFM images electrical potential on the beveled surface and assesses defect charging in the subsurface region within a screening length from the beveled surface. We found that the grain boundaries were positively charged and that there were significant potential fluctuations in both grain boundary versus grain interior and intragrain. We further found that these potential fluctuations decreased significantly toward the front interface. Time of flight secondary ion mass spectrometry imaging shows that Se content increased toward the front interface, consistent with Se passivation of defects. The potential fluctuation was induced by defect charging, and the results elucidate different details of the defect configurations and grain structures of the films with different CdCl2 treatment temperatures in the As-doped CdSeTe. The defect configurations in the region near the front interface can be a main factor contributing to the device performance difference. Our potential imaging provides insights about the defects throughout the absorber films, and shows that the potential fluctuation has a direct correlation to the Voc deficit.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number112465
Number of pages7
JournalSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier B.V.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-86069


  • CdTe solar cell
  • Defect passivation
  • Electrical potential
  • Kelvin probe force microscopy
  • Nm-scale characterization
  • Se–Te alloy


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