The Nanometer-Resolution Local Electrical Potential and Resistance Mapping of CdTe Thin Films

C. S. Jiang, H. R. Moutinho, R. G. Dhere, M. M. Al-Jassim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus Citations


We have investigated the microelectrical properties of CdTe thin films using scanning Kelvin probe force microscopy (SKPFM) and scanning spreading resistance microscopy (SSRM). Two films with the configurations of substrate and superstrate were subjected to the characterization studies. The electrical potential and resistance were properly mapped with the substrate film but not with the superstrate film because the underlying CdS/CdTe junction largely impacted the characterizations. The higher SKPFM potential on grain boundaries (GBs) of the substrate film than on the grain surface indicates positively charged GBs and upward band bending around the GB; therefore, the GBs are either depleted or inverted. The SSRM resistance mapping on this film shows nonuniformities and features that are associated with the grain structure and facets. However, the GBs do not exhibit distinct characteristic resistance. Comparing the low resistance channel along the GBs of high-performance CIGS films, the SSRM mapping of CdTe supports depletion of the GBs. In SSRM measurement, it is critical to adequately indent the probe to the film, and to apply a bias voltage larger than the onset voltage of the probe/film barrier, so that the contact resistance is minimized and that the local spreading resistance of CdTe film beneath the probe is measured.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number6587800
Pages (from-to)1383-1388
Number of pages6
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5200-60821


  • CdTe
  • microelectrical property
  • scanning kelvin probe force microscopy
  • scanning spreading resistance
  • thin-film photovoltaic


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