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Multijunction Solar Cell Simulation in TCAD

I. Maqsood
Masdar Institute of Science and Technology P.O. Box 54224, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abstract- This paper reviews the Synopsys Technology Computer-Aided Design (TCAD) simulation of multijunction solar cells. We describe the design steps of the solar cell simulation in TCAD. III-V multijunction solar cell simulation steps are covered in detail which includes structure generation, optical simulation and electrical simulations. Paper concludes that the Sentaurus TCAD is a comprehensive tool for modeling III-V solar cells which are being used in concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) systems.

In this paper we will first go through the different aspects of solar cell simulation and then we describe the simulation steps beginning with structure generation followed by optical and electrical simulations. Furthermore an application example will be presented to illustrate these aspects. II. GENERIC SOLAR CELL CONSIDERATIONS The primary consideration for the simulating any type of solar cell is the illumination conditions. We can illuminate the cell using monochromatic light or any standard solar spectrum e.g. AM0, AM1.5D, AM1.5G etc. In addition to above mention spectrums there is also possibility of defining a custom spectrum for solar cell simulation. Surface texturing and antireflection coating (ARC) are applied to increase the photons collection efficiency. The material properties include the doping levels, bandgap offsets in case of hetero-junctions, density of states and absorption of light in various materials. TCAD facilitates the users to use defaults parameters as well as the custom parameters in simulation. The device physics parameters required for the simulation includes photogeneration, transport, carrier recombination, trapping, tunneling and self heating. In short TCAD provides the facility to the user to play with all these parameters which otherwise will be very costly and time consuming if done in the Lab.

I. INTRODUCTION Cost reduction is one of the important factors for the domination of a particular technology in renewable energy business. Semiconductor part of the photovoltaic (PV) system is the most expensive portion. We see that the thin film PV approach reduces the amount of semiconductor material and thus makes it cheaper. Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) technology uses less area of more expensive cell (multijunction solar cell) and concentrates the sunlight using cheaper concentrated illumination system as shown in Fig. 1, in this way we can manage the overall system cost cheaper than other solar technologies. These cells have higher efficiency (41.1%) as compared to thin films (max 25%).

Fig. 1: Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) System [5].

Due to its high efficiency and low cost CPV modules are being deployed in different parts of the World [1]. TCAD solar cell design models the internal physics of cell operation which further allows us to optimize the cell efficiency or any other performance criterion in the cell. Moreover we can explore new cell designs without doing any fabrication in lab which saves time and money. In this paper we will discuss the simulation process of III-V multijunction solar cells in TCAD. Ref. [3], [4] and [5] touches the various aspects of multijunction solar cells and are helpful to read before multijunction cell simulation in TCAD.

Figure 2: Solar cell considerations [5].

III. SIMULATION ENVIRONMENT: SENTAURUS The environment used for the simulation solar cells in TCAD synopsys toolset is called Sentaurus. Sentaurus workbench is a tool within Sentaurus as shown in Fig. 3. We can control the simulation flow using this workbench by editing the structure, device simulation and accordingly we can extract the results. This environment is important as it is used to edit input files, parameterize the structure by defining

the variables, we can start/stop the simulation, opti ables, optimize and visualize the results.

Fig. 5. Influence of process variables on the cell response [5]. variable

IV. III-V SOLAR CELL SIMULATION HIERARCHY V SIMULAT Typical hierarchy of simulation tasks specific to compound task III-V solar cells are shown in Fig.6. It begins with structure I generation and defining the domain of the cell for simulation.
Fig. 3. Sentaurus simulation environment [5]. .
1

Structure Generagtion Structure Optical Simulation Optical Electrical Simulation Electrical Mixed-Mode Simulation Mode
Fig. 6. Simulation hierarchy.

Solar cell optimization is done by virtual experimental design in which we define several variables. One such example is base bulk concentration defined as follows [5]:

After this we select the specific design of experimental technique and the outcome of that would be the sequence of several simulations which would run at different points in the design of experiment (DOE) as shown in Fig. 4.

Input parameters for the structure generation step are epitaxial layer contacts, ARC while its outcome would be device geometry with doping profiles. This information and oping optical data are used as the inputs for the optical simulation which provides us information about external reflection and optical generation profiles of the cell. Electrical simulation is conducted by using the optical data, device geometry and electrical data (mobility, bandgap narrowing, recombination processes etc). Electrical simulation deals with the transport of holes and electrons collected at respective contacts which are further used to calculate the IV characteristics and quantum charact efficiency of the simulated multijunction cell. Mixed-mode Mixed simulation is carried out using unit cell TCAD model and circuit netlist to calculate interconnect losses. A. Structure generation In structure generation part we deal with the epitaxial layers dea which can be up to 20 or more layers, TCAD offers a convenient way of defining the stack using an Excel spread sheet as shown in Fig. 7.

Fig. 4. Run TCAD experiments in Sentaurus workbench [5].

Moving forward we see the effect of different process variables on the key performance criterion of the solar cell i.e. efficiency ( ), short circuit current J , open circuit voltage V , and fill factor FF . We can see from the Fig. 5 that the slope measures the influence of parameter on the cell performance. For example we can see that bulk , life time , surface concentration N t recombination S , has a strong impact on the cell efficiency. trong

Fig.7. Epitaxial stack definition in TCAD [5].

It produces the one dimensional structure as shown on the right side of Fig. 7. Once we have the structure after the epi definition we can edit it more by defining contacts, ARC and to make this structure as 2-D structure. The edited structure is D shown in Fig. 8.

After selecting the relevant optical model we can simulate the transmission of the light at the various material interfaces. We can track the light path within the cell material, light mater absorption in semiconductor region leads to optical generation. Optical generation profile, which depends on material and incident light wavelength, is shown in Fig. 10.

Fig. 8. Final structure with contacts, ARC [5]. ntacts,

There is a user friendly documentation linked with Sentaurus workbench which keeps the record of different parameters used in the simulation. If new materials are added then user can also update this documentation. B. Optical Simulation The primary consideration in optical simulation is the selection of proper optics model in the simulation The options simulation. are given as follows: 1. Geometrical optics 2. Full wave Optics Geometrical optics applies when the features of the cell are much larger than the incident light and fortunately this is the condition which fulfils for the most of the cell design and designs also in our case for the multijunction cell. TCAD have two methods within geometrical optics, the first method is called the Transfer Matrix Method (TMM) which is applicable to trix planer and quasi planer structures and this is the method of choice for multijunction solar cell as they have planer structure. The second method in geometrical optics is the ray d tracing (RT) which is applicable to the arbitrary shapes. This would be used when we have lot of texturing on the surface. Full wave optics is used when for example we have embedded nanoparticles inside the cell structure to study the interference and diffraction effects due to these particles. Optical models es. are summarized in Fig. 9.

Fig. 10. Optical simulation result in TCAD [5].

C. Electrical Simulation Optical generation profile obtained during optical simulation is used in the electrical simulation step. In electrical simulation part we deal with three equations shown below, one is Poisson equation used to solve electrostatic part to get electrostatic potential. The others two are current continuity trostatic equations one for electrons and other for holes. Key considerations in these equations are the recombination (R) and generation (G) terms. R controls the life time of minority carriers and diffusion lengths while generation part (G) comes n from the optical simulation as discussed before. . .J .J q p n N N n q q R G t p q q R G t

In continuity equations there are various ways to handle the current density terms and whether to include hot carriers or includ not. Drift diffusion is sufficient in majority cases for current transport in multijunction solar cells and the resulting current densities are given as follows: J J nq pq

Optical Models

Geometrical Optics

Full-Wave Optics

Where and are the quasi Fermi energy terms. The ways terms to solve these equations in TCAD are summarized as follows: 1. Quasi static 2. Transient 3. Small Signal AC The quasi static is the more common mode of solution in solar cell in which quasi static point is iterated step by step as we do in plotting IV curves and EQE versus . Transient solution is the analog of spice type of analysis which is done traditionally by applying current or voltage pulses but in solar

Transfer Matrix Method (TMM)

Ray Tracing (RT)

Fig. 9. Optical models in TCAD.

cell case it is done by light pulses. Small signal AC analysis is done to extract the cell capacitance. V. APPLICATION EXAMPLE Fig. 11 shows the structure layout of a triple junction solar cell, top sub-cell is made of InGaP and then the tunnel diode to connect it to the middle GaAs sub-cell after that there is another tunnel diode for interconnection with the bottom subcell made of InGaAs. Various variables like thickness, doping and mole fraction are also shown in the figure. Symmetry element of triple junction solar cell generated by Sentaurus structure editor is shown in Fig. 12. The thicknesses of the sub-cells should be of proper level in order to achieve good current matching in the structure. One should also look at the material coefficients such as absorption coefficient and electron diffusion length versus doping level. After structure generation we bias the triple junction cell to get the information of band diagrams as shown in Fig. 13a and 13b.

Fig. 13a. Equilibrium band diagram [5].

Fig. 3b. Band diagram at J

[5].

Fig.11. Triple junction solar cell [5].

Fig. 14 shows the optical generation rate within the simulated triple junction solar cell using TMM. We can see that there is comparatively high optical generation rate in the top cell because of its low thickness. TCAD is giving us the internal working information by modeling the triple junction cell physics for a given wavelength and the solar spectrum.

Fig. 14. TMM optical generation profile for triple junction solar cell [5].

Fig. 12. TCAD Triple junction solar cell structure (2D) [5].

Fig. 15a shows the J V characteristics of the each of the sub-cell. This graph gives us information about current matching among sub-cells, if it does not mach well then we

can optimize our cell design again in order to get better current matching. Fig. 15b shows the composite characteristics showing J V and P V characteristics of the triple junction solar cell.

VI. CONCLUSION Multijunction solar cells are used in CPV systems. Sentaurus TCAD is a comprehensive tool to simulate the solar cells. It simulates many solar cell technologies including crystalline Silicon, amorphous Silicon, III-V multijunction solar cells, CdTe, CIGS etc. Simulation of III-V solar cells is discussed III-V solar cell holds the World record efficiency of 41%. Paper also demonstrated the successful simulation of the III-V multijunction solar cell (InGaP/GaAs/InGaAs). ACKNOWLEDGMENT The author acknowledges Dr. Clara Dimas and her team for arranging TCAD tutorial and lab facility at Masdar Institute of Science and Technology Abu Dhabi. REFERENCES

Fig. 15a. J [5].

V characteristics of stacked sub-cells under AM1.5d illumination

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[3]

[4]

[5]

High-concentration at home, PV Magazine, No. 2, 2009. M. Hemle, G. Letay, S.P. Philipps, A.W. Bett, Numerical Simulation of Tunnel Diodes for Multi-junction Solar cells, Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, 2008. S.P. Philipps, M. Hemle, G. Letay, W. Guter, B.M. George, F. Dimroth, et al., Numerical Simulation and Modeling of III-V Multi-Junction Solar Cells, Proc. Of the 25th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conf. and Exhibition, Sept., 2008. S.P. Philipps, D. Stetter, R. Hoheisel, M. Hemle, F. Dimroth, A.W. Bett, Characterization and Numerical Modeling of the TemperatureDependent Behavior of GaAs Solar Cells, Proc. Of the 25th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conf. and Exhibition, Sept., 2008. R. Borges, Webinar on Simulation of Multijunction Solar Cells with TCAD Sentaurus, 15, April, 2009.

Fig. 15b. J V and P illumination [5].

V characteristics of stacked sub-cells under AM1.5d

Next we can plot the external quantum efficiency (EQE) and reflectance spectrum of the triple junction solar cell as shown in Fig. 16. This graph also makes sure that whether ARC layers are working in the same way as expected.

Fig. 16. EQE and reflectance of the simulated triple junction solar cell [5].