PhD abstract

Multi-Jonction Solar Cells (MJSCs) are leading the way of high efficiency photovoltaic devices, with conversion efficiency up to 46%. Their subcells are designed to absorb in a specific and complementary range of the solar spectrum, and are connected in series with tunnel junctions. The tandem architecture InGaP/GaAs - with bandgaps of 1.87 eV and 1.42 eV respectively - is mature and its efficiency could be enhanced by incorporating subcell(s) with bandgaps of 1 eV and/or 0.7 eV. The Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) growth of such low bandgap materials has thus to be developed, as well as low-resistive tunnel junctions with good structural and optical properties.

Based on the MBE growth and the simulation of GaAs tunnel junctions, we have identified interband tunneling as the predominant transport mechanism in such devices rather than trap-assisted-tunneling. The interband tunneling mechanism could be enhanced with the type II GaAsSb/InGaAs heterostructure. Using this material system, we have then demonstrated tunnel junctions with very low electrical resistivity with a limited degradation of the optical and structural properties inherently induced by the use of low band-gap and lattice-mismatched GaAsSb and InGaAs materials.

Moreover, we fabricated an innovative AlInGaAs/AlGaAsSb tunnel junction as a graded buffer architecture that could be used for the incorporation of a 1 eV metamorphic subcell. We then developed and characterized InGaAsN(Bi) materials with band-gaps of ~1eV, taking advantage of in-situ wafer curvature measurements during the MBE growth to control the lattice-mismatch.

Preliminary solar cells based on GaAs, 1 eV dilute nitride and metamorphic InGaAs have been fabricated and characterized validating the developed tunnel junction architectures. This work has enabled to demonstrate the potential of the type II GaAsSb/InGaAs heterostructure to meet the challenges posed by the conception and the fabrication of GaAsbased MJSCs, both for the tunnel junction and the 1 eV subcell.

Key words

photovoltaic, epitaxy, multi-junction solar cells, III-V semiconductors, tunnel junction