Project Name: Understanding Defect Activation and Kinetics in Next Generation CdTe Absorbers
Funding Opportunity: Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2018 Funding Program (SETO FY2018)
SETO Research Area: Photovoltaics
Location: Minneapolis, AZ
SETO Award Amount: $510,750
Awardee Cost Share: $175,000 
Principal Investigator: 
Mariana Bertoni 

-- Award and cost share amounts are subject to change pending negotiations --

Cadmium telluride (CdTe) is a second-generation thin-film photovoltaic (PV) cell technology experiencing rapid growth in the solar industry. With energy yields still trailing those of conventional silicon solar cells, efforts toward improving performance efficiencies are of interest to solar researchers and developers. With the challenges related to cell fabrication and performance optimization remain, additional considerations for higher performing materials and alternative synthesis routes are needed. In this project, researchers are studying the use of dopants and the influence of processing variables on the structural characteristics and properties of CdTe. Computational and analytical modeling tools are also under development to further correlate dopant concentration to study the effect of different processing parameters on cell properties and performance in addition to factors influencing cell configuration and production costs.  


Researchers are investigating energy loss mechanisms via recombination brought about by material defects in CdTe cells. The team is examining the interplay between cadmium chloride heat treatments and copper dopants and their effectiveness for mitigating these energy losses, as well as the viability of these techniques as manufacturing routes to improve the performance of CdTe cells. This will be accomplished through characterization methods to determine dopant content and distribution, X-ray diffraction to determine chemical stability, electron microscopy to evaluate cell microstructure, and X-ray fluorescence to study chemical distribution.


This work involves an in-depth look into the material properties of CdTe cells and how modifying the materials synthesis and processing route can manipulate those properties. This detailed analysis will provide researchers with the data needed to share with the broader PV research community while offering alternative approaches to enhancing PV performance. Understanding the process for integrating new materials into CdTe cell structures or developing new ones helps advance the state of PV technology and builds support for the innovation of new solar market technologies.