Framework to predict optimal buffer layer pairing for thin film solar cell absorbers: A case study for tin sulfide/zinc oxysulfide

Niall M. Mangan, Riley E. Brandt, Vera Steinmann, R. Jaramillo, Chuanxi Yang, Jeremy R. Poindexter, Rupak Chakraborty, Helen Hejin Park, Xizhu Zhao, Roy G. Gordon, Tonio Buonassisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


An outstanding challenge in the development of novel functional materials for optoelectronic devices is identifying suitable charge-carrier contact layers. Herein, we simulate the photovoltaic device performance of various n-type contact material pairings with tin(II) sulfide (SnS), a p-type absorber. The performance of the contacting material, and resulting device efficiency, depend most strongly on two variables: conduction band offset between absorber and contact layer, and doping concentration within the contact layer. By generating a 2D contour plot of device efficiency as a function of these two variables, we create a performance-space plot for contacting layers on a given absorber material. For a simulated high-lifetime SnS absorber, this 2D performance-space illustrates two maxima, one local and one global. The local maximum occurs over a wide range of contact-layer doping concentrations (below 1016cm-3), but only a narrow range of conduction band offsets (0 to -0.1 eV), and is highly sensitive to interface recombination. This first maximum is ideal for early-stage absorber research because it is more robust to low bulk-minority-carrier lifetime and pinholes (shunts), enabling device efficiencies approaching half the Shockley-Queisser limit, greater than 16%. The global maximum is achieved with contact-layer doping concentrations greater than 1018cm-3, but for a wider range of band offsets (-0.1 to 0.2 eV), and is insensitive to interface recombination. This second maximum is ideal for high-quality films because it is more robust to interface recombination, enabling device efficiencies approaching the Shockley-Queisser limit, greater than 20%. Band offset measurements using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and carrier concentration approximated from resistivity measurements are used to characterize the zinc oxysulfide contacting layers in recent record-efficiency SnS devices. Simulations representative of these present-day devices suggest that record efficiency SnS devices are optimized for the second local maximum, due to low absorber lifetime and relatively well passivated interfaces. By employing contact layers with higher carrier concentrations and lower electron affinities, a higher efficiency ceiling can be enabled.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115102
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 21 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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