Date of Award
Master of Applied Science (MASc)
The aim of third-generation photovoltaics (PV) is ultimately to achieve low-cost, high-efficiency devices. This work focused on a third-generation PV concept known as down-shifting, which is the conversion of high-energy photons into low-energy photons which are more useful for a typical solar cell. Silicon nanocrystals (Si-NCs) fabricated using electron-cyclotron resonance plasma-enhanced chemical vapour deposition (ECR-PECVD) were studied as a down-shifting material for single-junction silicon cells. A calibration was done to determine optimal deposition parameters for Si-NC formation. An experiment was then done to determine the effect of film thickness on emission, optical properties, and photoluminescence quantum efficiencies.
Photoluminescence (PL) peaks varied depending on the stoichiometry of the films, ranging from approximately 790 nm to 850 nm. Variable-angle spectroscopic ellipsometry was used to determine the optical constants of the Si-NC films. The extinction coefficients indicated strong absorption below 500 nm, ideal for a down-shifting material. Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) was used to determine the size, density, and distribution of Si-NCs in two of the films. Si-NCs were seen to have an average diameter of approximately 4 nm, with larger nanocrystals more common near the surface of the film. A density of approximately 105 nanocrystals per cubic micron was approximated from one of the TEM samples.
The design and implementation of a PL quantum efficiency measurement system was achieved, using an integrating sphere to measure the absolute efficiency of Si-NC emission. Internal quantum efficiencies (IQE) as high as 1.84% and external quantum efficiencies (EQE) of up to 0.19% were measured. The EQE was found to increase with thicker films due to more intense photoluminescence; however the IQE remained relatively independent of film thickness.
Sacks, Justin, "SPECTRAL ENGINEERING VIA SILICON NANOCRYSTALS GROWN BY ECR-PECVD FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC APPLICATIONS" (2012). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 7526.
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