Polycrystalline thin-film CdTe solar cells have demonstrated laboratory efficiency exceeding 17% and are nowadays a commercial technology (albeit with somewhat lower efficiencies). The standard process features a poorly understood recrystallization step, obtained by annealing with a source of chlorine. This study uses two-dimensional numerical modeling to investigate current transport inside the polycrystalline CdTe absorber with and without recrystallization effects [increase of grain size and donor ClTe states at grain boundaries (GBs)]. Solving the Poisson equation and the drift–diffusion model for transport with Fermi statistics, while treating the optical problem by the one-dimensional transfer matrix method and complex refractive indexes, this study shows that: (i) in a columnar absorber (i.e., one where only vertical GBs exist), the presence of ClTe donor traps at GBs results in a dip in the band profiles that effectively serves as an electron collector, significantly increasing the short-circuit current and efficiency compared with nondecorated GBs; (ii) while the same dip acts as a hole barrier and thus can be expected to block holes from flowing when horizontal GBs are present, under illuminated conditions electron collection at GBs reduces the dip enough to allow substantial hole flow, and the cell performance is only moderately affected.
Simulation of Current Transport in Polycrystalline CdTe Solar Cells / F. Troni;R. Menozzi;E. Colegrove;C. Buurma. - In: JOURNAL OF ELECTRONIC MATERIALS. - ISSN 0361-5235. - 42:11(2013), pp. 3175-3180. [10.1007/s11664-013-2702-0]