Advances in Thin-Film Solar Cells: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Advances in Thin-Film Solar Cells

1st Edition

By I. M. Dharmadasa

Jenny Stanford Publishing

250 pages

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pub: 2012-09-17
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This book concentrates on the latest developments in our understanding of solid-state device physics. The material presented is mainly experimental and based on CdTe thin-film solar cells. It extends these new findings to CIGS thin-film solar cells and presents a new device design based on graded bandgap multilayer solar cells. This design has been experimentally tested using the well-researched GaAs/AlGaAs system and initial devices have shown impressive device parameters. These devices are capable of absorbing all radiation (UV, visible, and infra-red) within the solar spectrum and combines "impact ionization" and "impurity photovoltaic" effects. The improved device understanding presented in this book should impact and guide future device design and low-cost thin-film solar panel manufacture.

Table of Contents


List of Symbols and Abbreviations Used in the Book

Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conversion


Photovoltaic Effect

Solar Energy Materials

Electronic Devices Used for Solar Energy Conversion

Characteristics of a Solar Cell

Next-Generation Solar Cells


Status Report on Solar Energy Technologies


Si Solar Cell Technology

PV-Manufacturing Cost Based on Si Technology

PV Technology Based on III-V Compounds

New Technology for PV and Nano-Divices

Emerging Low-Cost Thin-Film Technologies


Electrochemical Deposition of Solar Energy Materials


Electrodeposition of Semiconductors

Strengths and Advantages of Electrodeposition

Experimental Evidence

Issues in Electrodeposition of Semiconductors

Current Work and Future Prospects


Background of the CdTe Solar Cell and the New Device Concept


The Conventional Model for a Glass/Conducting Glass/CdS/CdTe/Metal Solar Cell

Key Observations That Led to the Formulation of a NewModel

New Concept for CdS/CdTe Solar Cell

Description of Experimental Results Using the Two Models

Predictions for Further Development of CdS/CdTe Solar Cells and Latest Observations


Extension of the New Model to CIGS Thin-Film Solar Cells


Summary of Accumulated Knowledge on CIGS-Based Materials

Summary of Accumulated Knowledge on CIGS-Based Solar Cells

Current Views of the Physics Behind CIGS Solar Cells

Reported Device Performance

RecentWork on Metal/p-CIGS Interfaces

Deeper Understanding of Mo/CIGS/CdS/i-ZnO/ n-ZnO:Al/Metal-Grid Solar Cells

Discussion on Further Improvements of CIGS Solar Cells



Effective Harvesting of Photons


Tandem Solar Cells

Comparison of the Two Connecting Methods



Multi-Layer Graded Bandgap Solar Cells


Summary of Growth and Process Details of the Device Structure

Experimental Results of Fully Processed Devices



Solar Cells Active in Complete Darkness


Summary of Experimental Results

Search for Experimental Evidence of the Impurity PV Effect

Responsivity Measurements

I-V Measurements Under Dark Conditions




Effects of Defects on Photovoltaic Solar Cell Characteristics


Variations of I-V Characteristics of Metal/n-CdTe Interfaces

Effects on the Performance of CdS/CdTe Solar Cells

Variations in GaAs/AlGaAs Solar Cells

Variations in CIGS Solar Cells


A Future Dominated by Solar Energy


Early Applications with Low Power Requirements

Early Applications with Moderate Power Requirements

Applications in Solar Home Systems (∼50WRange)

Applications in Drip Irrigation Systems (∼100WRange)

Applications in Powering Computers (500–1,000WRange)

Applications in Large-ScaleWater Pumping (∼1,000Wand Above)

Solar Power Applications on Roads

Solar Power Applications on Buildings (∼3 kW and Above)

Energy from Solar Farms and Deserts (MW Range)

Recommendations for Developing Countries

Recommendations for Developed Countries


Is Fermi-Level Pinning Affecting GaAs-Based Solar Cells?


Observation of Discrete Sets of I-V Characteristics

Observation of Discrete Sets of Voc Values

Discussion of New Observations

Thoughts on Future Directions of Thin-Film Solar Cell Research and Development


Areas for Research and Development Efforts



About the Author

I. M. Dharmadasa has worked in semiconductor research since becoming a Ph.D. student at Durham University in 1977. His interest in the electrodeposition of thin-film solar cells began when he joined the Appolo Project at BP Solar in 1988. He continued this area of research on joining Sheffield Hallam University in 1990. He has 80 refereed papers, six patents and over 100 conference presentations, and five book contributions, and he has successfully supervised 10 research degree candidates and nine years of PDRA support. He has gained research council and internal University funding and is currently working with a group of industrial partners (Ionotec Ltd, Pilkington plc, and ICP Solar UK) to commercialize the new research findings with the UK Government’s DTI-funding.

Dharmadasa is also actively involved in the public awareness work on applications of renewable energy in the society. He was the key person in initiating SAREP (South Asia Renewable Energy Programme), which is now becoming an international programme for the promotion of renewables. He is the editor of SAREP newsletter and has designed a "Village Power" programme using solar power to empower rural communities for the reduction of poverty.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Physics
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Environmental / General