Complex beam profiles for laser annealing of thin-film CdTe photovoltaics
Within the family of thin-film photovoltaics (PV), cadmium telluride (CdTe) has the fastest growing market share due to its high efficiencies and low cost. However, as with other PV technologies, the energy required to manufacture the panels is excessive, encompassing high environmental impact and manufacturing energy payback times of the order of 2-3 years. As part of the manufacturing process, the panels are annealed at temperatures of approximately 400°C for 30 minutes, which is inherently inefficient. Laser heating has previously been investigated as an alternative process for thin film annealing, due to its advantages with regard to its ability to localise heat treatment, anneal selectively and its short processing time. In this investigation, results focussing on improvements to the laser-based annealing process, designed to mitigate panel damage by excessive thermal gradients, are presented. Simulations of various laser beam profiles are created in COMSOL and used to demonstrate the benefit of laser beam shaping for thin film annealing processes. An enabling technology for this, the holographic optical element (HOE), is then used to experimentally demonstrate the redistribution of laser beam energy into an optimal profile for annealing, eliminating thermal concentrations.
This work was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), as part of Grant Number EP/M014088/1.
- Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering