16 October 2012 Stability of CIGS solar cells and component materials evaluated by a step-stress accelerated degradation test method
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A step-stress accelerated degradation testing (SSADT) method was employed for the first time to evaluate the stability of CuInGaSe2 (CIGS) solar cells and device component materials in four Al-framed test structures encapsulated with an edge sealant and three kinds of backsheet or moisture barrier film for moisture ingress control. The SSADT exposure used a 15°C and then a 15% relative humidity (RH) increment step, beginning from 40°C/40%RH (T/RH = 40/40) to 85°C/70%RH (85/70) as of the moment. The voluminous data acquired and processed as of total DH = 3956 h with 85/70 = 704 h produced the following results. The best CIGS solar cells in sample Set-1 with a moisture-permeable TPT backsheet showed essentially identical I-V degradation trend regardless of the Al-doped ZnO (AZO) layer thickness ranging from standard 0.12 μm to 0.50 μm on the cells. No clear “stepwise” feature in the I-V parameter degradation curves corresponding to the SSADT T/RH/time profile was observed. Irregularity in I-V performance degradation pattern was observed with some cells showing early degradation at low T/RH < 55/55 and some showing large Voc, FF, and efficiency degradation due to increased series Rs (ohm-cm2) at T/RH ≥ 70/70. Results of (electrochemical) impedance spectroscopy (ECIS) analysis indicate degradation of the CIGS solar cells corresponded to increased series resistance Rs (ohm) and degraded parallel (minority carrier diffusion/recombination) resistance Rp, capacitance C, overall time constant Rp*C, and “capacitor quality” factor (CPE-P), which were related to the cells’ p-n junction properties. Heating at 85/70 appeared to benefit the CIGS solar cells as indicated by the largely recovered CPE-P factor. Device component materials, Mo on soda lime glass (Mo/SLG), bilayer ZnO (BZO), AlNi grid contact, and CdS/CIGS/Mo/SLG in test structures with TPT showed notable to significant degradation at T/RH ≥ 70/70. At T/RH = 85/70, substantial blistering of BZO layers on CIGS cell pieces was observed that was not seen on BZO/glass, and a CdS/CIGS sample displayed a small darkening and then flaking feature. Additionally, standard AlNi grid contact was less stable than thin Ni grid contact at T/RH ≥ 70/70. The edge sealant and moisture-blocking films were effective to block moisture ingress, as evidenced by the good stability of most CIGS solar cells and device components at T/RH = 85/70 for 704 h, and by preservation of the initial blue color on the RH indicator strips. The SSADT experiment is ongoing to be completed at T/RH = 85/85.
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F. J. Pern, F. J. Pern, R. Noufi, R. Noufi, "Stability of CIGS solar cells and component materials evaluated by a step-stress accelerated degradation test method", Proc. SPIE 8472, Reliability of Photovoltaic Cells, Modules, Components, and Systems V, 84720J (16 October 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.930541; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.930541

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