Electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) provides information on the crystallographic structure of a sample, while scanning Kelvin probe microscopy (SKPM) provides information on its electrical properties. The advantage of these techniques is their high spatial resolution, which cannot be attained with any other techniques. However, because these techniques analyze the top layers of the sample, surface or cross section features directly influence the results of the measurements, and sample preparation is a main step in the analysis.
In this work we investigated different methods to prepare cross sections of CdTe/CdS solar cells for EBSD and SKPM analyses. We observed that procedures used to prepare surfaces for EBSD are not suitable to prepare cross sections, and we were able to develop a process using polishing and ion-beam milling. This process resulted in very good results and allowed us to reveal important aspects of the cross section of the CdTe films. For SKPM, polishing and a light ion-beam milling resulted in cross sections that provided good data. We were able to observe the depletion region on the CdTe film and the p-n junction as well as the interdiffusion layer between CdTe and CdS. However, preparing good-quality cross sections for SKPM is not a reproducible process, and artifacts are often observed.