Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, Vol.179, 276-282, 2018
CdTe thin film solar cells with a SnTe buffer layer in back contact
In recent years CdTe thin film solar cells (SCs) have demonstrated promising market application foregrodid. However, a relatively large gap between the achieved SCs efficiencies and the theoretically predicted maximum efficiency still exists. In particular, the open circuit voltage (V-oc) of the CdTe thin film SCs could be further increased, which is limited by high-work-function of CdTe. In this work, p-type narrow-gap SnTe thin films are proposed as a buffer layer in the back contact of CdTe SCs. The band alignment at SnTe/CdTe interface rendeis a small valance band offset, which expedites hole transport from the CdTe absorber to the hole electrode and improves the Ohmic contact for CdTe. With the insertion of a SnTe single buffer layer at the back contact, a Cu-free CdTe SC has been developed, which displays the same cell efficiency as the traditional cells using CuxTe as the back contact. The V-oc of cells with ZnTe: Cu/SnTe double-layer at back contact is notably higher than the CdTe SCs fabricated with CuxTe or ZnTe: Cu single-layer at the back contact. Furthermore, accretion of hole concentration is also demonstrated by the diffusion of Sn in the CdTe absorber layer. This work shows the potential to improve CdTe SCs by using a narrow-gap IV-VI compound semiconductor.