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The road to achieve ultra high efficiency is through multi-junction solar cells operating at high solar concentrations, larger than 1000 suns. Critical to the success of this approach is the development of tunnel junctions (TJ) that serve as electrically low loss interconnections, yet are optically transparent, using high band gap semiconductor material systems. We have previously reported the fabrication of a TJ made of n+-InGaP/ p+-AlGaAs with a band gap about 1.9 eV using Se and C doping, respectively. This TJ structure has a peak current density of 88 A/cm2 allowing it to be implemented in a three junction cell structure at solar concentrations as high as 4000 suns (x4000). Almost all reported conversion efficiencies higher than 40% have used this tunnel junction. This very high peak current density is unexpected in a high band gap material system, which is good news for the multi junction solar community. This seems to be due to the fact that the InGaP/AlGaAs interface has a staggered band line up. We will present the effect of this band line up at the heterointerface and its effect on the width of the depletion region and the peak current density. We also compare the current result from this heterostructure junction with an artificial homojunction made of n+-AlGaAs/ p+-AlGaAs doped to the same levels as that of the heterojunction. Results from the homojunction showed that peak current density is about one half of that obtained from the heterojunction at the same doping levels. A reasonable match between experimental result and the model was obtained when a value of 150 meV was used for ΔEc, the conduction band discontinuity at the interface. Both experiment and theory predicted that at a current density of about 80 A/cm2 with only about a few tens of meV drop across the TJ. This will have a minimal effect on the overall efficiency of the tandem solar cell structure when used at high solar concentrations.
Characteristics of strained layer superlattices (SLS) consisting of alternating layers InxGa1-xAs and GaAs1-yPy are examined for use in high efficiency solar cells. The effects of SLS quantum barrier widths on tunneling probability and short circuit current are discussed through analysis of J-V and spectral response measurements. Results indicate a threshold barrier thickness for which tunneling effects are deleterious. Effect of the number of SLS periods incorporated into a p-i-n structure and maximum number of periods are presented through spectral response and CV analysis. It is demonstrated that SLS show increasing responsivity with increasing number of periods due to higher absorption. CV analysis is performed to determine zero bias depletion widths for verifying appropriate number of SLS periods and fully depleted SLS region.
InGaAs can be used to enhance the response of solar cells past the 1.43 eV cutoff of GaAs. Strained-layer superlattice (SLS) structures with high indium and phosphorus compositions (up to 35% and 68% respectively) have been grown successfully. SLS solar cells with indium and high phosphorus compositions (up to 15% and 85% respectively) have been grown successfully. The spectral response of the solar cells has been extended to as low as 1.27 eV. This enhancement is also shown by an increase in the short circuit current, with a small reduction in the short circuit voltage as compared to standard GaAs p-n junction for AM1.5 and one sun.
Dark current curves show the extent of recombination in the superlattice. The reverse saturation current in the recombination region (0.2-0.8 V) was determined using a non-linear least squares fitting routine. An Arrhenius plot was generated by finding the reverse saturation current over a temperature range of 300-370 K. The low recombination devices show non-ideality constants of 1.7 with activation energies of 1.3-1.4 eV. The high recombination devices have non-ideality constants (˜2.3) and lower activation energies of 1.1 eV.
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