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Evidence for Self-healing Benign Grain Boundaries and a Highly Defective Sb2Se3–CdS Interfacial Layer in Sb2Se3 Thin-Film Photovoltaics

  • Rhys E. Williams
    Rhys E. Williams
    Department of Physics, Durham University, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, U.K.
  • Quentin M. Ramasse
    Quentin M. Ramasse
    School of Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, U.K.
    SuperSTEM Laboratory, Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus, Daresbury WA4 4AD, U.K.
  • Keith P. McKenna
    Keith P. McKenna
    Department of Physics, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, U.K.
  • Laurie J. Phillips
    Laurie J. Phillips
    Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy, Department of Physics, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZF, U.K.
  • Peter J. Yates
    Peter J. Yates
    Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy, Department of Physics, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZF, U.K.
  • Oliver S. Hutter
    Oliver S. Hutter
    Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy, Department of Physics, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZF, U.K.
    Department of Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, U.K.
  • Ken Durose
    Ken Durose
    Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy, Department of Physics, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZF, U.K.
    More by Ken Durose
  • Jonathan D. Major
    Jonathan D. Major
    Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy, Department of Physics, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZF, U.K.
  • , and 
  • Budhika G. Mendis*
    Budhika G. Mendis
    Department of Physics, Durham University, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, U.K.
    *Email: [email protected]
Cite this: ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2020, 12, 19, 21730–21738
Publication Date (Web):April 21, 2020
Copyright © 2020 American Chemical Society

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    Abstract Image

    The crystal structure of Sb2Se3 gives rise to unique properties that cannot otherwise be achieved with conventional thin-film photovoltaic materials, such as CdTe or Cu(In,Ga)Se2. It has previously been proposed that grain boundaries can be made benign provided only the weak van der Waals forces between the (Sb4Se6)n ribbons are disrupted. Here, it is shown that non-radiative recombination is suppressed even for grain boundaries cutting across the (Sb4Se6)n ribbons. This is due to a remarkable self-healing process, whereby atoms at the grain boundary can relax to remove any electronic defect states within the band gap. Grain boundaries can, however, impede charge transport due to the fact that carriers have a higher mobility along the (Sb4Se6)n ribbons. Because of the ribbon misorientation, certain grain boundaries can effectively block charge collection. Furthermore, it is shown that CdS is not a suitable emitter to partner Sb2Se3 due to Sb and Se interdiffusion. As a result, a highly defective Sb2Se3 interfacial layer is formed that potentially reduces device efficiency through interface recombination.

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    • (i) FIB cross-sectional images of devices, (ii) measuring the orientation of Sb2Se3 ribbons relative to the substrate, (iii) X-ray diffraction plots, (iv) electronic density of states (DOS) for the (273) free surface and (041) tilt boundary, (v) EDX chemical mapping across an intact CSS Sb2Se3–CdS interface, and (vi) EDX chemical mapping across the TE Sb2Se3–CdS interface (PDF)

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