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ELECTROTEHNIC, ELECTRONIC, AUTOMATIC, vol. 61, nr.

1, ianuarie-martie 2013

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Some New Features of SCAPS 2902 Used for Optimisation


of CdS-CdTe Thin-Film Photovoltaic Cell Structure
Cristian DUMITRACHE, Nicolae OLARIU, Eugen t. LAKATO, Gabriela MNTESCU,
Liviu OLTEANU, Mihaela BADEA
Abstract
We will discuss here results of the numerical simulation for a specific structure, obtained by INCDIE-ICPE-CA,
using an 1D program (SCAPS). The same program is used for the optimization of fill factor and efficiency
versus CdTe thickness (2-8 m) and CdS thickness (0,06-0,14 m). SCAPS (a Solar Cell Capacitance
Simulator) is a simulation programme, developed with LabWindows/CVI of National Instruments, by professor
Marc Burgelman from ELIS-University of Gent. It is designed as a general polycrystalline thinfilm device 1D
simulator and is mainly used for modeling CdTe and CIGS/CIS-based solar cells. The best efficiency for the
structure is achieved for CdS thickness of 0,06-0,08 m with CdTe thickness of 2-3 m. For the fill factor, the
best value is for CdTe thickness of 2-3 m and is less influenced by the CdS thickness. The advantage of the
3D representation in MATLAB, for the cell optimisation, is obvious.
Keywords: solar cell, thin films, SCAPS, CdTe thickness, CdS thickness

1. Introduction
Currently, the semiconductor most widely
used in solar cells is single-crystal silicon.
Because of the cost involved in producing
the bulk material, cells produced by this
method are expensive for some low cost
applications. The thin-film CdTe/CdS solar
cell has for several years been considered
to be a promising alternative to the more
widely used silicon devices. It has several
features which make it especially attractive:
The
cell
is
produced
from
polycrystalline materials and glass,
which is a potentially much cheaper
construction than bulk silicon.
The chemical and physical properties
of the semiconductors are such that
the thin-films can be deposited using a
variety of different techniques.
CdTe has a bandgap which is very

Cristian DUMITRACHE, conf.dr.ing., Universitatea


Valahia Targovite, Bd. Carol I, nr. 2, Trgovite,
Romnia, cristiandumitrache@gmail.com
Nicolae OLARIU, prof.dr.ing., olariudcem@yahoo.fr
Eugen t. LAKATO, prof. dr. fiz., Universitatea Valahia
Targovite, Bd. Carol I, nr. 2, Trgovite, Romnia,
e_lakatos@yahoo.com
Gabriela MNTESCU, dr.ing., Universitatea Valahia
Targovite, Bd. Carol I, nr. 2, Trgovite, Romnia,
gabriela.mantescu@yahoo.com
Liviu OLTEANU, ing., Universitatea Valahia Targovite,
Bd. Carol I, nr. 2, Trgovite, liviu.olteanu@gmail.com
Mihaela BADEA, ec., Universitatea Valahia Targovite,
Bd. Carol I, nr. 2, Trgovite, Romnia,
michaela.badea@yahoo.com

close to the theoretically-calculated


optimum value for solar cells under
unconcentrated AMI-5 sunlight.
CdTe has a high absorption coefficient,
so that approximately 99% of the
incident light is absorbed by a layer
thickness of only 1 m (compared with
around 10 m -or more- for Si), cutting
down the quantity of semiconductor
required.
SCAPS (a Solar Cell Capacitance
Simulator) is a simulation programme,
developed with LabWindows/CVI of National
Instruments, by professor Marc Burgelman
from ELIS-University of Gent[1]. It is
designed as a general polycrystalline thin
film device 1D simulator and is mainly used
for modeling CdTe and CIGS/CIS-based
solar cells [3].
The enter of a new problem into SCAPS
is straightforward (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Entering a new problem into SCAPS

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ELECTROTEHNIC, ELECTRONIC, AUTOMATIC, vol. 61, Nr. 1, ianuarie-martie 2013

Up to seven layers can be added to the


device and, for each layer or contact, all
physical and electronic properties can be
shown and altered inside a separate
window.
Simple models are used for the
temperature dependence of the effective
density for states and the thermal velocity,
other parameters such as the bandgap and
the
mobilities
are
independent
of
temperature.
For each layer up to three deep levels
can be defined and in between two layers
up top three interface states can be placed.
These deep levels can be energetically
distributed in the forbidden zone (single
level, uniform, gauss or exponential tail).
The deep bulk levels can also vary spatially
inside the layer (uniform, step, linear or
exponentially). All other properties are
spatially uniform for each layer and thus
several layers must be used if one wants to
introduce graded junctions in the device.
However, since only seven layers can be
defined, this program is not very suitable for
graded junctions.
Recombination in deep bulk levels and
their occupation is described by the
Shockley-Read-Hall
(SRH)
formalism.
Recombination at the interface states is
described by an extension of the SRH
formalism, allowing the exchange of
electrons between the interface state and
the two adjacent conduction bands, and of
holes between the state and the two
adjacent valence bands.
Excitation parameters are displayed in a
separate window, together with the
parameters that are necessary for defining
the measurements. SCAPS has among the
studied simulation programs the largest
number of electrical measurements that can
be simulated: J(V), C(V), C(f) and spectral
response. Each measurement can be
calculated for light or dark conditions and as
a function or temperature. When solving the
desired simulations, the energy band
diagram and the charge and currents in the
device are shown on screen for each
intermediate bias voltage or wavelength.
This intermediate solutions can then be
saved to a file. When the simulation is
completed, the characteristics can be
viewed and compared with characteristics
from other simulations. This feature makes

SCAPS a very interactive program.


Numerical modeling is a necessity for the
realistic description and understanding of
thin film PV cells. The MATLAB program it is
used for this reason. The advantage, of the
3D representation in MATLAB, for the cell
optimization, is obvious.
From these discussions is quite clear that
many complicated physical mechanisms
govern the operation of such PV cells; also,
a quantitative understanding of these cells is
beyond intuition and simple analytical
models.
2. Simulation Results
To simulate, we used a CdTe/CdS
structure proposed by INCDIE-ICPECA. The
only information is related to materials used
and the thickness: CdTe-5 m, CdS-0,2 m
and SnO2:F-1 m. The proposed structure is
a classical one and it is represented in
Figure 2.

Figure 2. The classical structure of a Cd-Te/Cd-S thin film


PV cell [2] -not to scale-

To characterize, we used the structure


with two set of graphics J-V and Q().
The J-V characterization is the most
commonly used tool for to characterize solar
cell devices.
This technique measures the current as a
function of voltage for a cell, usually in light
and dark. The light J-V curve yields the
values for the open circuit voltage Voc, the
short circuit current Jsc, and the maximum
power point Pmax.
The efficiency is = Pmax/Pin. The
quantum efficiency is the number of
collected electron-pairs divided by the
number of incident photons.
The fill factor is FF = Pmax/(VocJsc),
namely an efficiency measurement of a
particular cell that is compared to the
performance of an ideal cell having the
same Voc and Jsc.
For the ideal J-V curves, fill factor and
efficiency, see Figure 3.

ELECTROTEHNIC, ELECTRONIC, AUTOMATIC, vol. 61, nr. 1, ianuarie-martie 2013

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Figure 3. Ideal J-V curves, fill factor and efficiency [2]

First, we used standard material


parameters from the SCAPS file CdTebase.def (see The CdTe-base case, by

Markus Gloeckler, Colorado, summer 2003),


as showen in Figure 4.

a)

b)

c)

d)

Figure 4. Material parameters: a) back contact, b) CdTe layer 4 m thickness, c) CdS layer 0,025 m thickness,
d) SnO2:F layer 0,5 m thickness

The equivalent of the used file is the


AMPS baseline "base05-02-03(10). AMPS"
with the exception of the defect states. In
the AMPS model, all defects were Gaussian

distributed (see also [5] pp. 47, and [4]). For


these parameters, SCAPS provided the
graphics showen in Figure 5.

Figure 5. J-V and Q() graphics - SCAPS results for file CdTe-base.def

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ELECTROTEHNIC, ELECTRONIC, AUTOMATIC, vol. 61, Nr. 1, ianuarie-martie 2013

We observed that the fill factor was


62,7 % and the efficiency was 15,77 %. For
the AM 1,5 solar spectrum, the quantum
efficiency was 50 % at 350 nm.
Afterwards, on the parameters of this file,
we kept the only modification of the layers
thickness in agreement with the proposed
model by INCDIE-ICPECA (CdTe thickness
5 m, CdS thickness 0,2 m and SnO2:F
thickness 1m) and SCAPS provided the
graphics showen in Figure 6.

Figure 6. J-V and Q() graphics - SCAPS simulation


results: blue (for the solar cell proposed by
ICPE-CA); green (for the file CdTe-base.def )

shoulder of quantum efficiency below 550


nm for a too thick (200 nm) CdS layer.
The next step was to use the facility
offered by SCAPS to work in batch mode.
We just changed the thickness of the CdS
layer, in ten steps, between 0,02 m and 0,2
m. The results are shown in Figure 8 and
Figure 9.

Figure 8. J-V and Q() graphics - SCAPS results for file


CdTe-base.def - batch mode:
dCdS = 0,02 m (red), ten steps,
dCdS = 0,2 m (green)

We observe that the fill factor is 64,7 %


and the efficiency is only 12,05 %. For AM
1,5 solar spectrum, the quantum efficiency
is 50 % at 550 nm.
A literature search was done by A.
Fahrenbuch in [4] for the absorption
coefficient of CdS. The result is represented
in Figure 7.

Figure 9. Capacitance and conductance for


dCdS = 0,02 m, and dCdS = 0,2 m

Figure 7. The absorption coefficient for CdS (Fahrenbuch


[4])

This result explain the short wave length

As the CdS layer gets thicker, the solar


cell efficiency decreases and the quantum
efficiency for wavelengths less than 500
nm also decrease.
3. Optimisation Results

ELECTROTEHNIC, ELECTRONIC, AUTOMATIC, vol. 61, nr. 1, ianuarie-martie 2013

We used the same program SCAPS, in


batch mode, with parameters showen in
Figure 4, but both thicknesses CdTe and
CdS were variable. There were four
thicknesses for CdTe layer (2, 4, 6, 8 m)
and five thicknesses for CdS layer (0.06,
0.08, 0.10, 0.12, 0.14 m). In all cases,
SnO2:F layer was 1 m.
The 20 values for efficiency () and

29

20 values for fill factor (FF) were exported in


MATLAB, interpolated (cubical with k=8)
and they were represented for efficiency-
(as in Figure 10.a)) and for fill factor-FF (as
in figure 10.b)).

Figure 10.a) Efficiency versus dCdTe and dCdS

Figure 10.b) Fill factor versus dCdTe and dCdS

The MATLAB program for the 3D grafical


representation is below:

end

function [output_args] = ff(input_args)


% Efficiency (ETA in %) and Fill Factor (FF in %) for % OX:
CdTe Thickness: 2, 4, 6, 8 micrometers,
% OY: CdS Thickness: 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 micrometers*0.01
% SnO Thickness: 1 micrometer
% cubic interpolation with K=8 %
see Text FF=[75.5484,67.0840,66.1844,65.5705
% rows for OX, columns for OY
75.6164, 67.2768, 66.3817, 65.7776
75.6668, 67.4405, 66.5484, 65.9623
75.7128, 67.5798, 66.6898, 66.1085
75.7510, 67.6987, 66.8101, 66.2322];
% ETA=[14.4695,14.7663,14.3156,13.7426
% 14.0989,14.3969,13.9668,13.4202
% 13.7866,14.0865,13.6735,13.1485
% 13.5240,13.8245,13.4258,12.9187
% 13.3016,13.6025,13.2156,12.7236];
FF=ETA;
FFi=interp2(FF,8,'cubic');
m=min(min(FFi));
M=max(max(FFi));
a=['ETAMAX=',num2str(M)]
eval(a)
b=['ETAmin=',num2str(m)]
eval(b)
[l,c]=size(FF);
x=0:l-1;
x=x';
y=0:c-1;
[li,ci]=size(FFi);
xi=0:(l-1)/(li-1):l-1;xi=xi';
yi=0:(c-1)/(ci-1):c-1;
meshc(yi,xi,FFi);grid on
hold on

The best efficiency for the structure is


achieved for CdS thickness of 0,06-0,08 m
with CdTe thickness of 2-3 m.
For the fill factor, the best value is for
CdTe thickness of 2-3 m and is less
influenced by the CdS thickness.
For the cell optimisation, the advantage
of the 3D representation in MATLAB, is
obvious.

4. Conclusions

5. Acknowledgment
We are grateful to professor Marc Burgelman
who allowed us to free use SCAPS.

6. References
[1] BURGELMAN, M., VERSCHRAEGEN, J.,
DEGRAVE, S., NOLLET, P., Modeling thinfilm
PV
devices.
in
Progress
in
Photovoltaics, 2004, Vol. 12: pp. 143-153.
[2] GILMORE, AS., Studies of the Basic
Electronic Properties of CdTe and CdS Thin
Films and CdTe/CdS Solar Cells. in Thesis
Proposal-Colorado School of Mines.
[3] http://trappist.elis.ugent.be/ELISgroups/solar/
projects/scaps.html
[4] FAHRENBUCH, A., Modelling Results for
CdS/CdTe Solar Cells CSU Report at
http://www.physics.colostate.edu/groups/phot
ovoltaic/PDFs/ModCdTe.pdf
[5] GLOECKLER, M., Disertation: Device
Physics of Cu(In,Ga)Se2 Thin Film Solar
Cells. in Colorado State University,

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ELECTROTEHNIC, ELECTRONIC, AUTOMATIC, vol. 61, Nr. 1, ianuarie-martie 2013

Colorado, Summer 2005.


[6] DUMITRACHE, C., OLARIU, N., LAKATO, E.,
MNTESCU, G., OLTEANU, L., About some
new features of SCAPS 2902 used for a
comparison between two structures of CdSCdTe thin film photovoltaic cell. in The
Scientific Bulletin of Electrical Engineering
Faculty, 2011; vol. 1 (n 15): pp. 5-8.

8. Biography
Cristian DUMITRACHE was
born in Bucureti in 1950,
May, 08.
He graduated University of
Bucureti, Faculty of Physics, in
1973 and Universitatea Politehnica of
Bucureti, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, in
1986.
He is Doctor in 1999.
He is Reader at the Universitatea Valahia of
Trgovite.
His research interests concern: Automatic
control, and Digital Signal Processing
Eugen t. LAKATOS was born in
Arad in 1954, August, 31.
He graduated University of
Bucureti, Faculty of Physics, in
1979.
He is Doctor in Physics in 1996.
He is University Professor at the Universitatea
Valahia of Trgovite.
His research interests concern: modelling and
simulation of microelectronic process and
active semiconductor devices, modelling and
SPICE simulation of active microelectronic
semiconductor devices and analog integrated
circuits.
Nicolae OLARIU was born in
Bucureti in 1954, April, 17.
He graduated the Universitatea
Politehnica of Bucureti, Faculty
of Electrical Engineering, in
1979.
He is Doctor in 1996.

He is professor at the Universitatea Valahia


of Trgovite.
His research interests concern: Renewable
energy and Smart grids
Gabriela MNTESCU was born
in Moreni in 1964, Nov., 07.
He
graduated
Universitatea
Politehnica of Bucureti, Faculty
of Mechanical Engineering in
1988.
She is Doctor in 2008.
She is Researcher at the Universitatea
Valahia of Trgovite, the Technological
Multidisciplinary Research Institute.
Her research interests concern: Energy
conversion, Building integration of solar
technology and Solar thermal systems.
Liviu OLTEANU was born in
Pucioasa in 1977, Sept., 29.
He
graduated
Universitatea
Valahia of Trgovite, Faculty
of Electrical Engineering in 2001.
He is Researcher at the Universitatea
Valahia of Trgovite, Technological
Multidisciplinary Research Institute.
His research interests concern: Energy
conversion and Stand-alone photovoltaic
systems.
Mihaela BADEA was born in
Targoviste in 1972, Sept., 01.
She graduated the Universitatea
Valahia of Trgovite, Faculty of
Economics, Marketing in 1997.
She is the Economist at the Universitatea
Valahia of Trgovite.
Her research interests concern: Politics in
renewable energy, economic analysis for
renewable energy.