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International Journal of Photoenergy
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 765938, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/765938
Research Article

Interface Study of ITO/ZnO and ITO/SnO2 Complex Transparent Conductive Layers and Their Effect on CdTe Solar Cells

College of Materials Science and Engineering, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610064, China

Received 28 September 2012; Accepted 18 December 2012

Academic Editor: Sudhakar Shet

Copyright © 2013 Tingliang Liu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Transparent ITO/ZnO and ITO/SnO2 complex conductive layers were prepared by DC- and RF-magnetron sputtering. Their structure and optical and electronic performances were studied by XRD, UV/Vis Spectroscopy, and four-probe technology. The interface characteristic and band offset of the ITO/ZnO, ITO/SnO2, and ITO/CdS were investigated by Ultraviolet Photoelectron Spectroscopy (UPS) and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), and the energy band diagrams have also been determined. The results show that ITO/ZnO and ITO/SnO2 films have good optical and electrical properties. The energy barrier those at the interface of ITO/ZnO and ITO/SnO2 layers are almost 0.4 and 0.44 eV, which are lower than in ITO/CdS heterojunctions (0.9 eV), which is beneficial for the transfer and collection of electrons in CdTe solar cells and reduces the minority carrier recombination at the interface, compared to CdS/ITO. The effects of their use in CdTe solar cells were studied by AMPS-1D software simulation using experiment values obtained from ZnO, ITO, and SnO2. From the simulation, we confirmed the increase of , FF, , and by the introduction of ITO/ZnO and ITO/SnO2 layers in CdTe solar cells.

1. Introduction

Transparent conducting oxide (TCO) layers have been extensively studied because of their use as transparent electrodes in displays and in photovoltaic devices [1]. By incorporating a high resistance layer, the thickness of a conducting cadmium sulfide (CdS) layer can be reduced, which significantly improves the blue response of CdTe devices [2] and makes CdTe thin-film solar cells more competitive [3]. Wu has reported the efficiency of 16.5% with <100 nm CdS thickness [4]. However, as the thickness of CdS is decreased, the films would become discontinuous leading to the formation of localized CdTe/TCO junction, which leads to excessive shunting and therefore lowers the solar cell efficiency [5]. Using complex transparent conductive layers is known as a feasible method to improve the characteristics of CdTe thin films solar cells. Indium-tin oxide (ITO) systems, Sn, and ZnO have been used as the high resistance layer because of their excellent electrical and optical properties [6, 7] and the improvement of device performance [8].

The complex transparent conductive layers are always heterojunction structure, which are rather complicated systems for their different electron affinities, band gaps. The band offset and interface properties of a heterostructure are some of the most important properties. Sheng et al. have studied the n-layer/transparent conducting oxide (n/TCO) interfaces in amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) and microcrystalline silicon (mc-Si:H) materials by XPS [9]. Liu et al. studied the interface properties and band alignment of CS/CdS heterojunction, and the band offsets are obtained [10]. Horn studied electronic structure at the interface, relating to band bending and the evolution of transport barriers such as the Schottky barrier and the heterojunction band offset [11]. Bernède and Marsillac. have measured the band offsets of Sn/γ- heterojunction by XPS and estimated the conduction band discontinuity to be − eV [12]. Mönch discussed the electronic properties and chemical interactions at GaAs (110) and InP (110) surfaces [13].

In this present work, ITO, ZnO, and Sn films have been successfully prepared on ITO coated glass substrate by DC- and RF-magnetron sputtering and characterized by XRD, UV/Vis spectra, and four-probe apparatus. UPS and XPS were used to characterize the band offset of ITO/CdS, ITO/ZnO, and ITO/SnO2 layers and the influence on the transfer of electrons in CdTe thin film solar cells. AMPS-1D simulations, based on the Poisson equation and the hole-electron continuity equations in one dimension [14], were used to study the device performance of the CdTe solar cells with these different transparent conductive layers.

2. Experiment

DC magnetron was used to sputter the ITO and ZnO films in this paper. The targets were ceramic ITO (In2O3 : Sn2O3 = 90 : 10) and metallic Zn (99.999%).The substrate was held at while the sputtering pressure was 1.0 Pa for ITO and 2.4 Pa for Zn, of high purity argon (99.999%) mixed with 10% oxygen. The SnO2 films were prepared on an ITO substrate by RF-magnetron sputtering. Sputtering was conducted at and 1.0 Pa of argon (99.999%) mixed with 1% oxygen. The ITO layers were about 400 nm and the ZnO (Sn) were about 150 nm. The CdS layers were deposited by chemical bath deposition (CBD) and were about 150 nm thick.

The TCO/CdS structure was analyzed by X-ray diffraction (DX-2500, Dandong Fangyuan Instrument LLC) using Cu Κa radiation . The sheet resistance was measured with a Digital Four-Probe Tester (SZT-2, Suzhou Tongchuan Electronics). The thickness of each film was measured with a stylus profiler (XP-2, Ambios Technology Inc.). The optical transmission was measured by UV/Vis spectrometer (Perkin Elmer Inc., Lambda-950). The XPS and UPS were measured by the multifunctional X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (AXIS , Kratos Analytical Inc.) with the base pressure ~5.0 ×  Torr, the X-ray of Al , and the X-ray tube power of 130 W. The samples were etched by 21.2 eV beam and were biased with 7.36 volts to obtain reproducible cut-off results. The work functions were determined from the low-kinetic energy cut-off in the UPS spectra; that is, the intersection of the linear extrapolation with the baseline. In this experiment, samples were cleaned and thinned by sputtering with ions in HUV.

AMPS-1D has been employed to model and analyze the CdTe solar cells, and the different cells configuration is shown in Figure 1. The parameters used in the simulation are shown in Table 1. The electron affinity energies and mobility were obtained from [1517]. The thickness of CdTe film was set as 6 μm.

tab1
Table 1: The parameters used in the AMPS-1D simulation.
765938.fig.001
Figure 1: Structural view of CdTe solar cells with different configuration.

3. Results and Discussion

3.1. XRD

Figure 2 shows XRD patterns of ZnO and Sn films deposited on ITO films. The main diffraction peaks (400), (440), and (222) and so on come from the ITO films. Only one weak peak of ZnO was observed in the spectra labeled as (101), and one weak peak of Sn was observed labeled as (200) at diffraction angle. This indicates that the ZnO and Sn films have been deposited successfully onto the ITO films.

fig2
Figure 2: XRD spectrum of ITO/ZnO and ITO/Sn films.
3.2. Transmittance

The optical and electrical properties of ITO, ITO/ZnO, and ITO/Sn films were measured. The thickness was 400 nm for ITO films and 150 nm for ZnO and Sn films. Figure 3 shows the optical transmission of the as-deposited ITO/ZnO and ITO/Sn films. At the wavelength from 500 nm to 850 nm, the average transmittance is 82% for ITO/ZnO and 81.64% for ITO/Sn films, respectively, which are not lower than ITO films (85%) too much. On the other hand, in the blue region, the red shifts of the effective absorption edge of ITO/ZnO and ITO/Sn films are clearly observable. The sheet resistance of the ZnO was obtained as 108 Ω/□ while 104 Ω/□ for the Sn films, which are higher than ITO (13.2 Ω/□). The deposition of ZnO or Sn films as high resistance transparent (HRT) on ITO films can passivate the CdS surface than ITO, which could eliminate the leakage current caused by the pinhole effects of CdS [15] and thus improves the short circuit current remarkably.

765938.fig.003
Figure 3: Transmittance spectra of the ITO, ITO/ZnO, and ITO/Sn films.
3.3. XPS/UPS

Before analysis with XPS/UPS, all of the samples were cleaned by sputtering with ions for 1 minute in HUV to eliminate surface effects. The layers were profiled using XPS and UPS by taking spectra after every profiling time intervals until it revealed to the ITO film by sputtering.

3.3.1. ITO/CdS System

Figure 4 shows the UPS of ITO/CdS structure at different times (9–12 min). The “valence band offset” corresponds to be () and provides a direct measure of the Fermi level at the sample surface. The results show that the valence band maximum (VBM) in the interface of  ITO/CdS films increases from 2.14 eV to 3.10 eV. The (secondary electron onset) is the abscissa value on the left side when the intensity is 0 in the later UPS, so the work function can be obtained by

765938.fig.004
Figure 4: UPS profiling spectra of ITO/CdS films.

The is the excitation energy of Helium (21.2 eV), and the is set to be 0, so the would be concluded to be 4.7 eV for CdS and 4.2 eV for ITO. And the interface dipole of ITO and CdS films can be obtained as 0.41 eV and 0.28 eV by

The XPS at various times in Figure 5 shows the band energy variation at the interface of the ITO/CdS films. The profiling of samples starts CdS films and ends at 46 min, when the intensity peak of Cd3d is zero. The O1s emission gradually increases in intensity and the Cd3d decreases during the profiling process. At 1–9 min the intensity of O1s is weak and the B.E. is of no change because the content of oxygen atoms is very lower when the CdS films have been etched for 1 min. At 9–11 min, the intensity of O1s increases while the Cd3d decreases and the B.E. of Cd3d increases about 0.14 eV. That is to say, that the surface profiling occurs at 9–11 min. The thickness of CdS films is 150 nm, so the profiling speed is estimated as 15 nm/min. The intensity of Cd3d decreases gradually and passes off at 46 min. The results show a shift in all the core level lines to larger binding energies, which indicates the formation of a space charge layer (band bending) in the substrate.

fig5
Figure 5: XPS spectrum of the O1s and Cd3d reigns for n-ITO/n-CdS isotype heterojunction at various profiling times.

In order to construct the band energy diagram, the position of within the bulk must be known. The difference between the vacuum level can be obtained by subtracting the overall band bending from the difference of the work functions by ( is electron affinity)

Then the valence band offset can be determined by using the band energy difference between the O1s and Cd3d at intermediate coverage and the binding energies of the core levels with respect to the valence band. One has

Using the and the band gaps given before, the conduction band offset was calculated to be

Having determined band bending, band offset, and interface dipole, the final band alignment at the interface ITO/CdS heterojunction is presented in Figure 6. The conduction band bends upward in the ITO layer at the surface while the CdS layer bends downward. The electrons need to overcome a huge energy barrier (about 0.9 eV) when transferring from the CdS to ITO films.

765938.fig.006
Figure 6: Energy band diagram of the ITO/CdS isotype heterojunction.
3.3.2. ITO/ZnO System

The characterization of the layer at different profiling times is illustrated in Figure 7. The VBM increases from 3.11 eV to 3.21 eV at the interface of the ITO/ZnO films. And the would be calculated to be 3.8 eV for ZnO and 4.1 eV for ITO. And the interface dipole δ of ITO and ZnO fims can be obtained as 0.51 eV and 0.16 eV.

765938.fig.007
Figure 7: The UPS spectra of ITO/ZnO thin films.

The XPS at various profiling times in Figure 8 shows the variations in the band energy of the ITO/ZnO films at the interface (20–23 min). The profiling of samples starts ZnO films and ends at 61 min. The In3d (ITO) emission gradually increases in intensity and the Zn2p (ZnO) intensity decreases along the profiling progress. The thickness of ZnO films is 150 nm, so the profiling speed is estimated as 7 nm/min, which is obviously lower than CdS. And  eV was obtained and the valence band offset and conduction band offset Δ were calculated to be 0.4 eV and 0.05 eV, respectively.

fig8
Figure 8: XPS spectrum in the In3d and Zn2p reigns for n-ITO/n-ZnO isotype heterojunction under various profiling time.

The final band alignment at the interface ITO/ZnO heterojunction is presented in Figure 9. The conduction band bends downward in the ITO layer while ZnO layer bends upward at the interface. The barrier energy is about 0.4 eV, which is lower than ITO/CdS heterojunction potential barrier. That is to say the introducing ZnO film is beneficial for the transfer and collection of electrons.

765938.fig.009
Figure 9: Energy band diagram of the ITO/ZnO isotype heterojunction.
3.3.3. ITO/Sn System

The interface profiling from 9 to 20 min is presented in Figure 10. At the interface of ITO/Sn, the VBM value decreases from 3.38 eV to 3.28 eV. The of Sn films would be calculated to be 4.14 eV and 4.06 eV for ITO films. And the interface dipole of ITO and Sn films can be obtained as 0.44 eV and 0.73 eV.

765938.fig.0010
Figure 10: The UPS spectra of ITO/Sn complex layers.

The XPS at various profiling times is showed in Figure 11. The profiling of samples starts Sn films and ends at 42 min, when the intensity of Sn3d passes off. It confirms that the In3d (ITO) emission increases in intensity and the Sn3d (Sn) decreases during the profiling process. At 20–23 min, the profiling came to the interface, and the profiling speed is estimated as 7 nm/min and the thickness of Sn film is 150 nm. The adding of Sn films between ITO and CdS films also changes the energy structure. The  eV, .44 eV, and  eV were also obtained.

fig11
Figure 11: XPS spectrum in the In3d and Sn3d regions of an n-ITO/n-Sn isotype heterojunction at various profiling times.

The energy band diagram is presented in Figure 12. The conduction band bends downward in the ITO layer at the surface while Sn layer bends upward. The results shows that electrons must overcome an energy barrier (0.44 eV) when transferring from the Sn to ITO films, which is also less than that in the ITO/CdS heterojunction. Thus adding Sn layer is also beneficial for the transfer and collection of electrons.

765938.fig.0012
Figure 12: Energy band diagram of the ITO/Sn isotype heterojunction.
3.4. Device Simulation

Based on the previous analysis, we have simulated the effect of ITO/ZnO and ITO/Sn films in CdTe cells by AMPS-1D. Figure 13 shows the electric fields, dark I-V curves, and simulated output performance of different cells. The results show that inserting of ZnO or Sn films changes the electric field distribution, with the electric field strength decreasing at the ITO/CdS interface and a new electric field appearing at the ZnO (or Sn)/CdS interface. These electric field distributions are beneficial for the transfer and collection of electrons in CdTe cells. The introduction of ITO/ZnO or ITO/Sn films in CdTe solar cells improves the efficiency (), open voltage (), and short circuit current () significantly.

fig13
Figure 13: The simulated output performance for different structure: the electric field distribution (a), the dark IV curve (b), and , (c) and FF & (d).

Also, we fabricated CdTe solar cells with or without HRT films. The cells with ZnO films have the efficiency of 12.17% ( mV,  mA/, , and ) and the sample with Sn films has the efficiency of 11.4% (,  mA/, %, and ), while the sample without HRT layers has a much lower efficiency of 8.7% ( mV,  mA/, %, and ). The results also show that the introduction of HRT layers decreases the series resistance, which was partly attributed to good interface properties between HRT and CdS layers.

4. Conclusion

The ITO/ZnO and ITO/Sn films were successfully deposited on a glass substrate by DC- and RF-magnetron sputtering. The optical transmittance of the ITO/ZnO and ITO/Sn as complex TCO layers was 82% and 81.64% from 500 nm–850 nm, respectively. The measured sheet resistances of ITO/ZnO and ITO/Sn layers were 105 Ω/□ and 37.5 Ω/□, respectively. The interface compositions of the TCO layers were characterized by UPS and XPS, and the energy band diagrams were determined. The energy barriers at the interface of ITO/ZnO and ITO/Sn layers are almost 0.4 and 0.44 eV, which are lower than those at ITO/CdS heterojunctions (0.9 eV). The ITO/ZnO and ITO/Sn as complex transparent conductive benefit the transfer and collection of electrons in CdTe solar cells and reduce the minority carriers recombination at the interface, compared to CdS/ITO.

Furthermore, we have also simulated and analyzed the effects of the ITO/ZnO and ITO/Sn films on CdTe cells by AMPS-1D. The results show that the electric field distribution changes a lot by the introduction of ZnO and Sn films between ITO and CdS. The , FF, , and are improved significantly, that is to say, the ITO/ZnO and ITO/Sn complex transparent conductive layers are beneficial for the performance of CdTe solar cells.

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the National Basic Research Program (973 Program) of China under Grant no. 2011 CBA00708.

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