Date of Award

12-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Electrical Engineering

Advisor

Rajendra Singh

Committee Member

William R. Harrell

Committee Member

Keith Corzine

Committee Member

Mica Grujicic

Abstract

With a cumulative generation capacity of over 100 GW, Photovoltaics (PV) technology is uniquely poised to become increasingly popular in the coming decades. Although, several breakthroughs have propelled PV technology, it accounts for only less than 1% of the energy produced worldwide. This aspect of the PV technology is primarily due to the somewhat high cost per watt, which is dependent on the efficiency of the PV cells as well as the cost of manufacturing and installing them. Currently, the efficiency of the PV conversion process is limited to about 25% for commercial terrestrial cells; improving this efficiency can increase the penetration of PV worldwide rapidly. A critical review of all possibilities pursued in the public domain reveals serious shortcomings and manufacturing issues. To make PV generated power a reality in every home, a Multi-Junction Multi-Terminal (MJMT) PV architecture can be employed combining silicon and another earth abundant material. However, forming electronic grade thin films of earth abundant materials is a non-trivial challenge; without solving this, it is impossible to increase the overall PV efficiency. Deposition of Copper (I) Oxide, an earth abundant semiconducting material, was conducted using an optimized Photo assisted Chemical Vapor Deposition process. X-Ray Diffraction, Ellipsometry, Transmission Electron Microscopy, and Profilometry revealed that the films composed of Cu2O of about 90 nm thickness and the grain size was as large as 600 nm. This result shows an improvement in material properties over previously grown thin films of Cu2O. Measurement of I-V characteristics of a diode structure composed of the Cu2O indicates an increase in On/Off ratio to 17,000 from the previous best value of 800. These results suggest that the electronic quality of the thin films deposited using our optimized process to be better than the results reported elsewhere. Using this optimized thin film forming technique, it is now possible to create a complete MJMT structure to improve the terrestrial commercial PV efficiency.

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