Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Electrical Engineering

Major Professor

Christos S. Ferekides


Back Contact, Diffusion Barriers, Impurities, Photovoltaics, Stainless Steel Foils


Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) is a leading thin film photovoltaic (PV) material due to its near ideal bandgap of 1.45 eV and its high optical absorption coefficient. The typical CdTe thin film solar cell is of the superstrate configuration where a window layer (CdS), the absorber (CdTe) and a back contact are deposited onto glass coated with a transparent electrode.

Substrate CdTe solar cells where the above listed films are deposited in reverse are not common. In this study substrate CdTe solar cells are fabricated on flexible foils.

The properties of the Molybdenum back contact, Zinc Telluride (ZnTe) interlayer and CdTe absorber on the flexible foils were studied and characterized using X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM).

Substrate curvature and film flaking was observed during the fabrication as a result of differences in thermal expansion coefficients between the substrate and the deposited films, and also due to impurity diffusion from the foil into the film stack. In order to overcome this problem diffusion barriers where used to eliminate contamination. Silicon dioxide (SiO2), silicon nitride (Si3N4) and molybdenum nitride (MoxNy) were used as such barriers.

Electrical characterization of completed devices was carried out by Current-Voltage (J-V), Capacitance-Voltage (C-V) and Spectral Response (SR) measurements.

Roll-over was observed in the first quadrant of J-V curves indicating the existence of a back barrier due to a Schottky back contact. The formation of non-rectifying contact to p-CdTe thin-film is one of the major and critical challenges associated with the fabrication of efficient and stable solar cells.

Several materials (ZnTe, Cu, Cu2Te, and Te) were studied as potential candidates for the formation of an effective back contact.