Near-Field Transport Imaging Applied to Photovoltaic Materials

Chuanxiao Xiao, Chun Sheng Jiang, John Moseley, John Simon, Kevin Schulte, Aaron Ptak, Steven Johnston, Mowafak Al-Jassim, Nancy Haegel, Helio Moutinho, Brian Gorman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus Citations


We developed and applied a new analytical technique—near-field transport imaging (NF-TI or simply TI)—to photovoltaic materials. Charge-carrier transport is an important factor in solar cell performance, and TI is an innovative approach that integrates a scanning electron microscope with a near-field scanning optical microscope, providing the possibility to study luminescence associated with recombination and transport with high spatial resolution. In this paper, we describe in detail the technical barriers we had to overcome to develop the technique for routine application and the data-fitting procedure used to calculate minority-carrier diffusion length values. The diffusion length measured by TI agrees well with the results calculated by time-resolved photoluminescence on well-controlled gallium arsenide (GaAs) thin-film samples. We report for the first time on measurements on thin-film cadmium telluride using this technique, including the determination of effective carrier diffusion length, as well as the first near-field imaging of the effect of a single localized defect on carrier transport and recombination in a GaAs heterostructure. Furthermore, by changing the scanning setup, we were able to demonstrate near-field cathodoluminescence (CL), and correlated the results with standard CL measurements. The TI technique shows great potential for mapping transport properties in solar cell materials with high spatial resolution.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)134-141
Number of pages8
JournalSolar Energy
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-67811


  • High resolution
  • Near-field
  • Photovoltaic materials
  • Transport imaging


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