Polycrystalline CdTe photovoltaics with efficiency over 18% through improved absorber passivation and current collection

© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Sublimated thin-film CdTe photovoltaic devices with conversion efficiencies over 18% and a fill-factor greater than 79% have been repeatedly obtained using high-rate fabrication processes on commercial soda-lime glass substrates used in CdTe modules. Four major improvements to the device have enabled an increase in efficiency from a baseline of approximately 12–18.7%: 1) A sputtered multilayer metal-oxide anti-reflection layer; 2) total replacement of the CdS window layer with a higher bandgap sputtered Mg x Zn 1−x O (MZO) window layer; 3) deposition of the CdTe layer at a higher thickness and substrate temperature; and 4) an evaporated tellurium back-contact. This work describes the effect of these changes on the device performance and film microstructural characteristics using various methods. Multiple devices with comparable high efficiency have been fabricated and demonstrated using methods described in this study, yielding very high efficiencies for CdTe polycrystalline thin-film photovoltaics using deposition processes and equipment in a university setting.