Inert gas bubble formation in magnetron sputtered thin-film CdTe solar cells

P Hatton and A Abbas and P Kaminski and S Yilmaz and M Watts and M Walls and P Goddard and R Smith, PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY A-MATHEMATICAL PHYSICAL AND ENGINEERING SCIENCES, 476, 20200056 (2020).

DOI: 10.1098/rspa.2020.0056

Cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells are deposited in current production using evaporation-based tech- niques. Fabricating CdTe solar cells using magnetron sputtering would have the advantage of being more cost- efficient. Here, we show that such deposition results in the incorporation of the magnetron working gas Ar, within the films. Post deposition processing with CdCl(2)improves cell efficiency and during which stacking faults are removed. The Ar then accumulates into clusters leading to the creation of voids and blisters on the surface. Using molecular dynamics, the penetration threshold energies are determined for both Ar and Xe, with CdTe in both zinc-blende and wurtzite phases. These calculations show that more Ar than Xe can penetrate into the growing film with most penetration across the (111) surface. The mechanisms and energy barriers for interstitial Ar and Xe diffusion in zinc-blende are determined. Barriers are reduced near existing clusters, increasing the probability of capture-based cluster growth. Barriers in wurtzite are higher with non-Arrhenius behaviour observed. This provides an explanation for the increase in the size of voids observed after stacking fault removal. Blister exfoliation was also modelled, showing the formation of shallow craters with a raised rim.

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