Transparent Conducting Oxides for Solar Cell Applications
Transparent conducting oxides (TCOs) are wide bandgap semiconductors (Eg ≥3.1 eV) whose properties strongly depend on stoichiometric deviations, such as oxygen deficiency, and on the nature and quantity of impurities trapped in the host lattice. Examples of TCOs include tin oxide (SnO2), indium tin oxide (In2O3), and zinc oxide (ZnO). The best-known application of TCOs in solar cells is their use as fore contacts. High-efficiency CdTe solar cells are generally grown in a superstrate configuration, where the CdTe/CdS stacks are deposited on TCO-coated glass substrates. Another development is an application of a TCO as a back electrical contact on CdTe, leading to bifacial CdTe solar cells, which can be illuminated from one or both sides.
In this chapter, a review of the properties of TCOs of potential use in solar cells was performed, with a focus on tin oxide and zinc oxide thin films. This focus is due to the fact that these two compounds in thin film forms are technologically important materials in photovoltaic cells. The electrical, optical, structural, compositional, and morphological properties of both of these compounds are discussed.
KeywordsTransparent conducting oxides Solar cells Fore contacts Tin oxide Zinc oxide
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