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How Oxygen Exposure Improves the Back Contact and Performance of Antimony Selenide Solar Cells

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journal contribution
posted on 11.11.2020, 17:33 by Nicole Fleck, Oliver S. Hutter, Laurie J. Phillips, Huw Shiel, Theodore D. C. Hobson, Vin R. Dhanak, Tim D. Veal, Frank Jäckel, Ken Durose, Jonathan D. Major
The improvement of antimony selenide solar cells by short-term air exposure is explained using complementary cell and material studies. We demonstrate that exposure to air yields a relative efficiency improvement of n-type Sb2Se3 solar cells of ca. 10% by oxidation of the back surface and a reduction in the back contact barrier height (measured by J–V–T) from 320 to 280 meV. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) measurements of the back surface reveal that during 5 days in air, Sb2O3 content at the sample surface increased by 27%, leaving a more Se-rich Sb2Se3 film along with a 4% increase in elemental Se. Conversely, exposure to 5 days of vacuum resulted in a loss of Se from the Sb2Se3 film, which increased the back contact barrier height to 370 meV. Inclusion of a thermally evaporated thin film of Sb2O3 and Se at the back of the Sb2Se3 absorber achieved a peak solar cell efficiency of 5.87%. These results demonstrate the importance of a Se-rich back surface for high-efficiency devices and the positive effects of an ultrathin antimony oxide layer. This study reveals a possible role of back contact etching in exposing a beneficial back surface and provides a route to increasing device efficiency.