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Energy Generation & Storage

Solar Cells

Solar cells are used to convert energy of light into electricity. Currently several different designs are being used however the main challenge is to make the technology more widely used which means improving the performance of the devices while keeping cost down.

Solar Cells

Thin film solar cell

The example below shows how the combination of EDS, EBSD and EBIC can be used to characterise Cu(In,Ga)Se2 absorber layers. The aim is to understand why the photovoltaic performance of these solar cells is so high in spite of a large number of grain boundaries in the material. The general expectation is that grain boundaries have a negative effect on the photovoltaic performance. By using the EBSD and EBIC data it was possible to show that the type of grain boundary is important and it is not just a matter of density.


Data supplied by N Schäfer, Helmholtz-Zentrum, Berlin

All oxide solar cell

The design is based on a structure of multiple oxide layers and the individual layer thicknesses have a significant effect on the photovoltaic performance of the device. This means that measuring and controlling the layer thicknesses is vital for ensuring the best performance. The example shows how this can be done in a non-destructive way by use of AZtec LayerProbe which is an approach for measuring thickness and compositions of multilayer structures.

(Left) An example structure of the all-oxide solar cell stack

(Right) Surface plots show the layer thickness obtained using LayerProbe of the TCO layer, the TiO2 layer and the CuxNiyOz layer respectively.
The Cu/Ni ratio is that in the CuxNiyOz layer

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Resolving defects and true orientations in CIGS-type solar cells

The performance and efficiency of solar cells are intimately linked to their crystallographic properties on the sub-micrometre scale. This application note shows how the EBSD technique, coupled with advanced pattern matching methods, can be used to resolve dislocation structures, antiphase domain boundaries and true crystallographic orientations in CIGS-type solar cells.

Multi-Scale Analysis of Dislocations and Grain Boundaries for Improving mc-Si Solar Cell Performance

Solar cells are being increasingly used globally and it is important that improvements are made on the production of Mc-Si cells to enhance efficiency. Analysis of these solar cells using EBIC, TEM and APT.

Characterisation of all-oxide solar cells using AZtec LayerProbe

Photovoltaic (PV) cells are an attractive option for generating low carbon renewable energy but traditional designs often include undesirable toxic compounds and must be manufactured under special conditions. The all-oxide approach to photovoltaic cells is thus very attractive...

Solar cells from chalcopyrite-type thin films analysed by electron backscatter diffraction

Solar energy conversion is part of a long term strategy to ensure a stable and adequate supply of electrical power in the future. Photovoltaics are the only method of converting sunlight directly into electrical energy. The efficiency of a photovoltaic system is measured...

EBSD analysis of Lead Halide Perovskites using Symmetry

Methylammonium Lead Halides (MALHs) are organic crystal compounds used in solar cells, LEDs, LASERs and photodetectors. Recent improvements to EBSD detectors now allows for their characterisation of grain size and texture.

Electron Beam Induced Current (EBIC)

Electron Beam Induced Current is a wellestablished analysis method of electrical activity in the SEM (and occasionally in the STEM). It provides a unique correlation of electrical and structural properties with very high spatial resolution.


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