Investigation of Non-Vacuum Deposition Techniques in Fabrication of Chalcogenide-Based Solar Cell Absorbers

  • Ahmed Alsaggaf

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The environmental challenges are increasing, and so is the need for renewable energy. For photovoltaic applications, thin film Cu(In,Ga)(S,Se)2 (CIGS) and CuIn(S,Se)2 (CIS) solar cells are attractive with conversion efficiencies of more than 20%. However, the high-efficiency cells are fabricated using vacuum technologies such as sputtering or thermal co-evaporation, which are very costly and unfeasible at industrial level. The fabrication involves the uses of highly toxic gases such as H2Se, adding complexity to the fabrication process. The work described here focused on non-vacuum deposition methods such as printing. Special attention has been given to printing designed in a moving Roll-to-Roll (R2R) fashion. The results show potential of such technology to replace the vacuum processes. Conversion efficiencies for such non-vacuum deposition of Cu(In,Ga)(S,Se)2 solar cells have exceeded 15% using hazardous chemicals such as hydrazine, which is unsuitable for industrial scale up. In an effort to simplify the process, non-toxic suspensions of Cu(In,Ga)S2 molecular-based precursors achieved efficiencies of ~7-15%. Attempts to further simplify the selenization step, deposition of CuIn(S,Se)2 particulate solutions without the Ga doping and non-toxic suspensions of Cu(In,Ga)Se2 quaternary precursors achieved efficiencies (~1-8%). The contribution of this research was to provide a new method to monitor printed structures through spectral-domain optical coherence tomography SD-OCT in a moving fashion simulating R2R process design at speeds up to 1.05 m/min. The research clarified morphological and compositional impacts of Nd:YAG laser heat-treatment on Cu(In,Ga)Se2 absorber layer to simplify the annealing step in non-vacuum environment compatible to R2R. Finally, the research further simplified development methods for CIGS solar cells based on suspensions of quaternary Cu(In,Ga)Se2 precursors and ternary CuInS2 precursors. The methods consisted of post deposition reactive annealing for performance enhancement up to 2.0% solar cell conversion efficiency. Chemical treatment using metal salt solutions and Na2Se4 for Na and Se incorporation provided efficiencies up to 1.1%.
Date of AwardJul 2015
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorAlexander Rothenberger (Supervisor)


  • non-vacuum
  • Deposition
  • Fabrication
  • Chalcogenide
  • solar cell
  • absorber

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