Surfactant-Assisted Growth of CdS Thin Films for Photovoltaic Applications

Craig L. Perkins, Falah S. Hasoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus Citations


A common nonionic surfactant, Triton X-100, was used to modify the chemical bath deposition of CdS "buffer" layers on Cu (In,Ga) Se2 (CIGS) thin films. Addition of the surfactant to the CdS deposition bath allowed increased wetting of Cu (In,Ga) Se2 substrates and an increase in the uniformity of films, especially on model hydrophobic substrates. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy data demonstrate that films produced with the surfactant have the same chemical and electronic properties as films grown without it. In CdSCu (In,Ga) Se2 devices, it was found that Triton X-100 allowed the use of CdS layers that were three to four times thinner than those used normally in high efficiency CIGS-based devices and eliminated the large drops in open-circuit voltage that usually accompany very thin buffer layers. For these thin CdS layers and relative to devices made without the surfactant, average absolute cell efficiencies were increased from 10.5% to 14.8% or by a relative 41%. Visual inspection of the CdS depositions reveals one possible mechanism of the surfactant's effects: Bubbles that form and adhere to the CIGS surface during the chemical bath deposition are almost completely eliminated with the addition of the TX-100. Thus, junction nonuniformities, pinholes, and thin areas in the CdS layer caused by poor wetting of the substrate surface are sharply reduced, leading to large increases in the open-circuit voltage in devices produced with the surfactant.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)497-504
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Vacuum Science and Technology A: Vacuum, Surfaces and Films
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-520-39072


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