Stability of CIGS Solar Cells and Component Materials Evaluated by a Step-Stress Accelerated Degradation Test Method: Preprint

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    A step-stress accelerated degradation testing (SSADT) method was employed for the first time to evaluate the stability of CuInGaSe2 (CIGS) solar cells and device component materials in four Al-framed test structures encapsulated with an edge sealant and three kinds of backsheet or moisture barrier film for moisture ingress control. The SSADT exposure used a 15 degrees C and then a 15% relativehumidity (RH) increment step, beginning from 40 degrees C/40%RH (T/RH = 40/40) to 85 degrees C/70%RH (85/70) as of the moment. The voluminous data acquired and processed as of total DH = 3956 h with 85/70 = 704 h produced the following results. The best CIGS solar cells in sample Set-1 with a moisture-permeable TPT backsheet showed essentially identical I-V degradation trend regardless of theAl-doped ZnO (AZO) layer thickness ranging from standard 0.12 um to 0.50 um on the cells. No clear 'stepwise' feature in the I-V parameter degradation curves corresponding to the SSADT T/RH/time profile was observed. Irregularity in I-V performance degradation pattern was observed with some cells showing early degradation at low T/RH < 55/55 and some showing large Voc, FF, and efficiency degradation due to increased series Rs (ohm-cm2) at T/RH = 70/70. Results of (electrochemical) impedance spectroscopy (ECIS) analysis indicate degradation of the CIGS solar cells corresponded to increased series resistance Rs (ohm) and degraded parallel (minority carrier diffusion/recombination) resistance Rp, capacitance C, overall time constant Rp*C, and 'capacitor quality' factor (CPE-P), whic were related to the cells' p-n junction properties. Heating at 85/70 appeared to benefit the CIGS solar cells as indicated by the largely recovered CPE-P factor. Device component materials, Mo on soda lime glass (Mo/SLG), bilayer ZnO (BZO), AlNi grid contact, and CdS/CIGS/Mo/SLG in test structures with TPT showed notable to significant degradation at T/RH = 70/70. At T/RH = 85/70, substantial blistering of BZO layers on CIGS cell pieces was observed that was not seen on BZO/glass, and a CdS/CIGS sample displayed a small darkening and then flaking feature. Additionally, standard AlNi grid contact was less stable than thin Ni grid contact at T/RH = 70/70. The edge sealant and moisture-blocking films were effective to block moisture ingress, as evidenced by the good stability of most CIGS solar cells and device components at T/RH = 85/70 for 704 h, and by preservation of the initial blue color on the RH indicator strips. The SSADT experiment is ongoing to be completed at T/RH = 85/85.
    Original languageAmerican English
    Number of pages16
    StatePublished - 2012
    EventSPIE Optics + Photonics 2012 - San Diego, California
    Duration: 12 Aug 201216 Aug 2012


    ConferenceSPIE Optics + Photonics 2012
    CitySan Diego, California

    NREL Publication Number

    • NREL/CP-5200-54187


    • Al-doped ZnO window layer
    • alni contact grid
    • CIGS solar cells
    • damp heat stability
    • encapsulated test structure
    • Mo on SLG
    • performance reliability
    • step-stress accelerated degradation test (SSADT)


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