TILTED COLUMNAR THIN FILM COATINGS WITH ANISOTROPIC LIGHT SCATTERING PROPERTIES FOR SOLAR ENERGY APPLICATIONS
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The main goal of this thesis is to show the versatility of glancing angle deposition (GLAD) thin films in applications. This research is first focused on studying the effect of select deposition variables in GLAD thin films and secondly, to demonstrate the flexibility of GLAD films to be incorporated in two different applications: (1) as a reflective coating in low-level concentration photovoltaic systems, and (2) as an anode structure in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC). A particular type of microstructure composed of tilted micro-columns of titanium is fabricated by GLAD. The microstructures form elongated and fan-like tilted micro-columns that demonstrate anisotropic scattering. The thin films texture changes from fiber texture to tilted fiber texture by increasing the vapor incidence angle. At very large deposition angles, biaxial texture forms. The morphology of the thin films deposited under extreme shadowing condition and at high temperature (below recrystallization zone) shows a porous and inclined micro-columnar morphology, resulting from the dominance of shadowing over adatom surface diffusion. The anisotropic scattering behavior of the tilted Ti thin film coatings is quantified by bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF) measurements and is found to be consistent with reflectance from the microstructure acting as an array of inclined micro-mirrors that redirect the incident light in a non-specular reflection. A silver-coating of the surface of the tilted-Ti micro-columns is performed to enhance the total reflectance of the Ti-thin films while keeping the anisotropic scattering behavior. By using such coating is as a booster reflector in a laboratory-scale low-level concentration photovoltaic system, the short-circuit current of the reference silicon solar cell by 25%. Finally, based on the scattering properties of the tilted microcolumnar microstructure, its scattering effect is studied as a part of titanium dioxide microstructure for the anode in DSSCs. GLAD-fabricated TiO2 microstructures for the anode in a DSSC, consisting of vertical micro-columns, and combined vertical topped with tilted micro-columns are compared. The solar cell with the two-part microstructure shows the highest monochromatic incident photon to current efficiency with 20% improvement compared to the vertical microstructure, and the efficiency of the cell increases from 1.5% to 2% due to employing the scattering layer.