A method for forming thin films or layers of cadmium telluride (CdTe) for use in photovoltaic modules or solar cells. The method includes varying the substrate temperature during the growth of the CdTe layer by preheating a substrate (e.g., a substrate with a cadmium sulfide (CdS) heterojunction or layer) suspended over a CdTe source to remove moisture to a relatively low preheat temperature. Then, the method includes directly heating only the CdTe source, which in turn indirectly heats the substrate upon which the CdTe is deposited. The method improves the resulting CdTe solar cell reliability. The resulting microstructure exhibits a distinct grain size distribution such that the initial region is composed of smaller grains than the bulk region portion of the deposited CdTe. Resulting devices exhibit a behavior suggesting a more n-like CdTe material near the CdS heterojunction than devices grown with substrate temperatures held constant during CdTe deposition.
The United States Government has rights in this invention under Contract No. DE-AC36-08GO28308 between the United States Department of Energy and the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, the Manager and Operator of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.