3 years ago

Degradation of Ge subcells by thermal load during the growth of multijunction solar cells

Degradation of Ge subcells by thermal load during the growth of multijunction solar cells
Ignacio Rey-Stolle, Carlos Algora, Ivan García, Mario Ochoa, Laura Barrutia, Enrique Barrigón
Germanium solar cells are used as bottom subcells in many multijunction solar cell designs. The question remains whether the thermal load originated by the growth of the upper layers of the multijunction solar cell structure affects the Ge subcell performance. Here, we report and analyze the performance degradation of the Ge subcell due to such thermal load in lattice-matched GaInP/Ga(In)As/Ge triple-junction solar cells. Specifically, we have detected a quantum efficiency loss in the wavelength region corresponding to the emitter layer (which accounts for up to 20% loss in equivalent JSC) and up to 55 mV loss in VOC of the Ge subcell as compared with analogous devices grown as single-junction Ge solar cells on the same type of substrates. We prove experimentally that there is no direct correlation between the loss in VOC and the doping level of the base. Our simulations show that both the JSC and VOC losses are consistent with a degradation of the minority carrier properties at the emitter, in particular at the initial nanometers of the emitter next to the emitter/window heterointerface. In addition, we also rule out the gradual emitter profile shape as the origin of the degradation observed. Our findings underscore the potential to obtain higher efficiencies in Ge-based multijunction solar cells if strategies to mitigate the impact of the thermal load are taken into consideration. During the growth of Ge-based multijunction solar cells, the Ge subcell suffers performance degradation. In lattice-matched GaInP/GaInAs/Ge multijunction solar cells, we observed a 20% and a 24% relative loss in JSC and VOC, respectively, together with a significant change in both the emitter depth and doping profile. According to our numerical simulation, the QE degradation and VOC drop are mainly attributed to extremely poor minority carrier properties at the gradual emitter zone acting as an almost dead layer.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1002/pip.2948

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