Copper Indium Gallium di-Selenide (CIGS) solar cells are a promising approach in photovoltaic technology, having low production costs, high conversion efficiencies (> 20 %), as well as the possibility to manufacture them on flexible substrates. State-of-the-art in CIGS solar cells manufacturing is to use a stack of CdS, intrinsic ZnO (i-ZnO) and an Al-doped ZnO TCO on top of the CIGS film. Replacement of CdS by a non-toxic Cd-free layer with wider band gap (> 2.4 eV) would a) decrease the production cost by avoiding the expensive treatment of toxic wastes and b) increase the overall cell efficiency by enhancing the quantum efficiency in the blue range. Moreover, the use of a “soft” and highly conformal deposition technique is preferred to improve the electrical properties of the buffer layer/CIGS interface.
We present spatial atmospheric atomic layer deposition of a Zn(O,S) buffer layer as CdS replacement for CIGS solar cells. Spatial ALD is emerging as an industrially scalable deposition technique at atmospheric pressure which combines the advantages of temporal ALD, i.e. excellent control of film composition and uniformity on large area substrates (roll-to-roll as well as sheet-to-sheet), with high growth rates (up to nm/s). Films are grown by sequentially exposing the substrate to oxygen and sulfur precursors (H2O, H2S) and the zinc metal precursor (i.e., DEZn). By controlling the kinetics of surface reactions between evaporated precursors and reactive sites at the film surface, the composition of Zn(O,S) can be precisely tuned. The incorporation of S into ZnO results in a bowing of the band gap in the range from 3.3 eV (ZnO) to 2.7 (S/O+S ~ 0.5) and 3.4 eV (ZnS), as measured by spectrophotometry. The morphology of the Zn(Ox-1,Sx) films varies from polycrystalline (for 0<x<30 and 70<x<100) to amorphous (30<x<70), as measured by X-ray diffraction. CIGS solar cells with a Zn(O,S) buffer layer show an increased spectral response around 400 nm compared to solar cells with a CdS buffer layer. The solar cells with the Zn(O,S) buffer layer had an efficiency of 15.9 %, compared to 15.5 % for the reference solar cells with a CdS buffer layer. We will also show that this deposition technique is compatible with the large scale production that is needed for solar cells.