Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Electrical Engineering

Major Professor

Christos S. Ferekides, Ph.D.


Photovoltaics, Back contact, Substrate device, Diffusion barrier, Adhesion


Cadmium telluride (CdTe) is a leading thin film photovoltaic (PV) material due to its near ideal band gap of 1.45 eV, its high optical absorption coefficient and availability of various device fabrication methods. Superstrate CdTe solar cells fabricated on glass have to-date exhibited efficiencies of 16.5%. Work on substrate devices has been limited due to difficulties associated with the formation of an ohmic back contact with CdTe. The most promising approach used to-date is based on the use of an interlayer between the CdTe and a metal electrode, an approach that is believed to yield a pseudo-ohmic contact. This research investigates the use of ZnTe and Sb2Te3 as the interlayer, in the development of efficient back contacts. Excellent adhesion and minimum stress are also required of a CdTe thin film solar cell device on a flexible stainless steel (SS) foil substrate.

Foil substrate curvature, flaking, delamination and adhesion as a result of compressive strain due to the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) mismatch between the flexible SS foil substrate and the solar cell films have been studied. A potential problem with the use of a SS foil as the substrate is the diffusion of iron (Fe), chromium (Cr) and other elemental impurities into the layers of the solar cell device structure during high temperature processing. A diffusion barrier limiting the out diffusion of these substrate elements is being investigated in this study. Silicon nitride (Si3N4) films deposited on SS foils are being investigated as the barrier layer, to reduce or inhibit the diffusion of substrate impurities into the solar cell. Thin film CdTe solar cells have been fabricated and characterized by AFM, XRD, SEM, ASTM D3359-08 tape test, current-voltage (I-V) and spectral measurements.

My individual contributions to this work include the Molybdenum (Mo) development, the adhesion studies, the silicon nitride (Si3N4) barrier studies, and EDS and SEM lines measurements and analysis of substrate out-diffused impurities. The rest of my colleagues focused on the development of CdTe, CdS, ZnTe, the CdCl2 heat treatment, and other back contact interlayer materials.