High rate deposition of thin film CdTe solar cells by pulsed dc magnetron sputtering

A new high rate deposition method has been used to fabricate thin film CdTe photovoltaic devices using pulsed dc magnetron sputtering. The devices have been deposited in superstrate configuration on to a commercial fluorine doped tin oxide transparent conductor on soda lime glass. The cadmium sulphide and cadmium telluride thin films were deposited from compound targets. The magnetrons were mounted vertically around a cylindrical chamber and the substrate carrier rotates so that the layers can be deposited sequentially. The substrates were held at 200ºC during deposition, a process condition previously found to minimize the stress in the coatings. Optimization of the process involved a number of parameters including control of pulse frequency, power and working gas pressure. The devices deposited using the process are exceptionally uniform enabling the CdTe absorber thickness to be reduced to ~1um. The asdeposited material is dense and columnar. The cadmium chloride treatment increases the grain size and removes planar defects. The microstructure of the films before and after activation has been characterized using a number of techniques including transmission electron microscopy, Energy Dispersive mapping and these measurements have been correlated to device performance. The deposition rate is much higher than can be obtained with radio-frequency sputtering and is comparable with methods currently used in thin film CdTe module manufacturing such as Vapour Transport Deposition and Close Space Sublimation.