NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
Analysis of Electrical Characteristics of Thin Film Photovoltaic CellsSolar energy is the most abundant form of energy in many terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments. Often in extraterrestrial environments sunlight is the only readily available form of energy. Thus the ability to efficiently harness solar energy is one of the ultimate goals in the design of space power systems. The essential component that converts solar energy into electrical energy in a solar energy based power system is the photovoltaic cell. Traditionally, photovoltaic cells are based on a single crystal silicon absorber. While silicon is a well understood technology and yields high efficiency, there are inherent disadvantages to using single crystal materials. The requirements of weight, large planar surfaces, and high manufacturing costs make large silicon cells prohibitively expensive for use in certain applications. Because of silicon s disadvantages, there is considerable ongoing research into alternative photovoltaic technologies. In particular, thin film photovoltaic technologies exhibit a promising future in space power systems. While they are less mature than silicon, the better radiation hardness, reduced weight, ease of manufacturing, low material cost, and the ability to use virtually any exposed surface as a substrate makes thin film technologies very attractive for space applications. The research group lead by Dr. Hepp has spent several years researching copper indium disulfide as an absorber material for use in thin film photovoltaic cells. While the group has succeeded in developing a single source precursor for CuInS2 as well as a unique method of aerosol assisted chemical vapor deposition, the resulting cells have not achieved adequate efficiencies. While efficiencies of 11 % have been demonstrated with CuInS2 based cells, the cells produced by this group have shown efficiencies of approximately 1 %. Thus, current research efforts are turning towards the analysis of the individual layers of these cells, as well as the junctions between them, to determine the cause of the poor yields. As a student of electrical engineering with some material science background, my role in this research is to develop techniques for analyzing the electrical characteristics of the CuInS2 cells. My first task was to design a shadow mask to be used to place molybdenum contacts under a layer of CuInS;! in order to analyze the contact resistance between the materials. In addition, I have also analyzed evaporated aluminum top contacts and have tested various methods of increasing their thicknesses in order to decrease series resistance. More recently I have worked with other members of the research group in reviving a vertical cold-wall reactor for experimentation with CuInS2 quantum dots. As part of that project, I have improved the design for a variable frequency and pulse width square wave generator to be used in driving the precursor injection process. My task throughout the remainder of my tenure is to continue to analyze and develop tools for the analysis of electrical properties of the CuInS2 cells with the ultimate goal of discovering ways to improve the efficiency of our photovoltaic cells. Traditionally, photovoltaic cells are based on a single crystal silicon absorber. While The research group lead by Dr. Hepp has spent several years researching copper indium
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Kasick, Michael P. (Carnegie-Mellon Univ. Pittsburgh, PA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2004
Publication Information
Publication: Research Symposium I
Subject Category
Electronics and Electrical Engineering
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

Related Records

IDRelationTitle20050186794Analytic PrimaryResearch Symposium I