Effects of Nanoassembly on the Optoelectronic Properties of CdTe - ZnO Nanocomposite Thin Films for Use in Photovoltaic Devices
AuthorBeal, Russell Joseph
AdvisorPotter, Barrett G., Jr.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractQuantum-scale semiconductors embedded in an electrically-active matrix have the potential to improve photovoltaic (PV) device power conversion efficiencies by allowing the solar spectral absorption and photocarrier transport properties to be tuned through the control of short and long range structure. In the present work, the effects of phase assembly on quantum confinement effects and carrier transport were investigated in CdTe - ZnO nanocomposite thin films for use as a spectrally sensitized n-type heterojunction element. The nanocomposites were deposited via a dual-source, sequential radio-frequency (RF) sputter technique that offers the unique opportunity for in-situ control of the CdTe phase spatial distribution within the ZnO matrix. The manipulation of the spatial distribution of the CdTe nanophase allowed for variation in the electromagnetic coupling interactions between semiconductor domains and accompanying changes in the effective carrier confinement volume and associated spectral absorption properties. Deposition conditions favoring CdTe connectivity had a red shift in absorption energy onset in comparison to phase assemblies with a more isolated CdTe phase. While manipulating the absorption properties is of significant interest, the electronic behavior of the nanocomposite must also be considered. The continuity of both the matrix and the CdTe influenced the mobility pathways for carriers generated within their respective phases. Photoconductivity of the nanocomposite, dependent upon the combined influences of nanostructure-mediated optical absorption and carrier transport path, increased with an increased semiconductor nanoparticle number density along the applied field direction. Mobility of the carriers in the nanocomposite was further mediated by the interface between the ZnO and CdTe nanophases which acts as a source of carrier scattering centers. These effects were influenced by low temperature annealing of the nanocomposite which served to increase the crystallinity of the phases without modification of the as-deposited phase assembly and associated absorption properties. Integration of the nanocomposite as an n-type heterojunction element into a PV device demonstrated the ability to tune device response based on the spectral absorption of the nanocomposite sensitizer film as dictated by the phase assembly. Overall the various phase assemblies studied provided increased opportunity for optimization of the absorption and carrier transport properties of the nanocomposite thin films.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Materials Science & Engineering