Optical Characterization of Indium Gallium Nitride for Application in High-Efficiency Solar Photovoltaic Cells

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McLaughlin, Dirk
Photovoltaics , III-V Alloy , Semiconductor Characterization
The semiconductor alloy indium gallium nitride (InxGa1-xN) offers substantial potential in the development of high-efficiency multi-junction photovoltaic devices due to its wide range of direct band gaps, strong absorption and other optoelectronic properties. This work uses a variety of characterization techniques to examine the properties of InxGa1-xN thin films deposited in a range of compositions by a novel plasma-enhanced evaporation deposition system. Due to the high vapour pressure and low dissociation temperature of indium, the indium incorporation and, ultimately, control of the InxGa1-xN composition was found to be influenced to a greater degree by deposition temperature than variations in the In:Ga source rates in the investigated region of deposition condition space. Under specific deposition conditions, crystalline films were grown in an advantageous nano-columnar microstructure with deposition temperature influencing column size and density. The InxGa1-xN films were determined to have very strong absorption coefficients with band gaps indirectly related to indium content. However, the films also suffer from compositional inhomogeneity and In-related defect complexes with strong phonon coupling that dominates the emission mechanism. This, in addition to the presence of metal impurities, harms the alloy’s electronic properties as no significant photoresponse was observed. This research has demonstrated the material properties that make the InxGa1-xN alloy attractive for multi-junction solar cells and the benefits/drawbacks of the plasma-enhanced evaporation deposition system. Future work is needed to overcome significant challenges relating to crystalline quality, compositional homogeneity and the optoelectronic properties of In-rich InxGa1-xN films in order to develop high-performance photovoltaic devices.
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