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Systems and Methods for Forming CIS and CIGS Solar Cells

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

Thin film copper indium diselenide (CIS) and copper indium gallium deselenide (CIGS) solar cells are a promising technology with low material costs and high efficiency. Current CIS/CIGS cells are manufactured in a process that results in a copper (Cu) rich region near the surface of the absorber layer, but enhanced performance has been demonstrated if this region is Cu-poor. Unfortunately, the conversion of the Cu-rich region to a Cu-poor region requires high temperatures (e.g., 1200° C. and higher) which are not practical in manufacturing environments.

Description

Researchers at NREL have invented a novel method of fabricating CIS/CIGS cells that utilize copper chloride (CuCl) vapor to achieve Cu transport, converting Cu-rich regions into Cu-poor regions. CuCl is heated to form a highly volatile vapor which reacts with Se vapor in a reaction chamber, enabling Cu transport at a high rate. This differs from typical chemical vapor deposition (CVD) in that reactants are physically transported to the reactor to facilitate the desired chemical reaction in the thin film; it may be described as a hybrid physical and chemical deposition reaction. The use of vapor transport also allows cells to be grown via close spaced sublimation (CSS), which greatly decreases the cost and increases the speed at which CIS/CIGS thin film cells are manufactured. 

Benefits
  • Results in enhanced CIS/CIGS solar cell absorber layers
  • Enables the use of CSS to reduce cost and increase manufacturing speed
Applications and Industries
  • Thin film CIS/CIGS solar cells
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Date
Patent 9,583,667
Patent
9,583,667
Systems and methods for forming solar cells with CuInSe.sub.2 and Cu(In,Ga)Se.sub.2 films
Systems and methods for forming solar cells with CuInSe.sub.2 and Cu(In,Ga)Se.sub.2 films are provided. In one embodiment, a method comprises: during a first stage (220), performing a mass transport through vapor transport of an indium chloride (InCl.sub.x) vapor (143, 223) and Se vapor (121, 225) to deposit a semiconductor film (212, 232, 252) upon a substrate (114, 210, 230, 250); heating the substrate (114, 210, 230, 250) and the semiconductor film to a desired temperature (112); during a second stage (240) following the first stage (220), performing a mass transport through vapor transport of a copper chloride (CuCl.sub.x) vapor (143, 243) and Se vapor (121, 245) to the semiconductor film (212, 232, 252); and during a third stage (260) following the second stage (240), performing a mass transport through vapor transport of an indium chloride (InCl.sub.x) vapor (143, 263) and Se vapor (121, 265) to the semiconductor film (212, 232, 252).
National Renewable Energy Laboratory 02/28/2017
Issued
Patent 9,054,264
Patent
9,054,264
Systems and methods for solar cells with CIS and CIGS films made by reacting evaporated copper chlorides with selenium
Systems and methods for solar cells with CIS and CIGS films made by reacting evaporated copper chlorides with selenium are provided. In one embodiment, a method for fabricating a thin film device comprises: providing a semiconductor film comprising indium (In) and selenium (Se) upon a substrate; heating the substrate and the semiconductor film to a desired temperature; and performing a mass transport through vapor transport of a copper chloride vapor and se vapor to the semiconductor film within a reaction chamber.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory 06/09/2015
Issued
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
NREL ROI 09-72PrototypeAvailable09/07/201709/07/2017

Contact NREL About This Technology

To: Bill Hadley<bill.hadley@nrel.gov>