# FUNDAMENTAL PROPERTIES OF SOLAR CELLS

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1 FUNDAMENTAL PROPERTIES OF SOLAR CELLS January 31, 2012 The University of Toledo, Department of Physics and Astronomy SSARE, PVIC Principles and Varieties of Solar Energy (PHYS 4400) and Fundamentals of Solar Cells (PHYS 6980)

2 On today s menu photovoltaic effect fundamental solar cell properties diode equation dark current light current Efficiency J SC V OC internal and external QE maximum power point Quiz #2 next Tuesday, Feb. 7th

3 Solar spectra at Earth

4 Green line marks bandgap of Si Image created by Robert A. Rohde / Global Warming Art

5 Average Solar Insolation Average Solar Radiation Average daily solar radiation at a location in a given month: this data may be presented either as measured on the horizontal or measured with the measuring surface perpendicular to the solar radiation (corresponding to a PV system which tracks the sun). The angular dependence to account for the tilt of the module must also be incorporated. Peak Sun Hours The average daily solar insolation in units of kwh/m 2 per day is sometimes referred to as "peak sun hours". The term "peak sun hours" refers to the solar insolation which a particular location would receive if the sun were shining at its maximum value for a certain number of hours. Since the peak solar radiation is 1 kw/m 2, the number of peak sun hours is numerically identical to the average daily solar insolation. For example, a location that receives 8 kwh/m 2 per day can be said to have received 8 hours of sun per day at 1 kw/m 2. Being able to calculate the peak sun hours is useful because PV modules are often rated at an input rating of 1kW/m 2.

6 Properties of light Energy of a photon: Convenient relation: 1 ev = x J Definition of photon flux: Spectral irradiance: F is the spectral irradiance in Wm -2 µm -1 ; Φ is the photon flux in # photons m -2 sec -1 ; E and λ are the energy and wavelength of the photon in ev and µm respectively; and q, h and c are constants. An excellent resource:

7 Integrating the Solar Spectrum

8 Simple solar cell structure

9 Conventional p-n junction photovoltaic cell Hot charge carriers hν e - electron loses energy to phonons e - For Si (E g = 1.1 ev) at T = 300 K, AM1.5G λ max = 32.9% Losses transmission = 18.7% heat = 46.8% radiative em. = 1.6% p-type n-type usable photovoltage (qv) h + hole loses energy to phonons 1 e - -h + pair/photon

10 Photovoltaic effect The photovoltaic effect is the creation of a voltage (or a corresponding electric current) in a material upon exposure to light.

11 Electric current flow Conventional Electric Current Although it is electrons which are the mobile charge carriers which are responsible for electric current in conductors such as wires, it has long been the convention to take the direction of electric current as if it were the positive charges which are moving I

12 Semiconductors A semiconductor has electrical conductivity due to electron flow (as opposed to ionic conductivity) intermediate in magnitude between that of a conductor and an insulator. Semiconducting materials are the foundation of modern electronics, and are used in transistors, solar cells, many kinds of diodes including the light-emitting diode, and digital and analog integrated circuits. Semiconductor PV cells directly convert light energy into electrical energy. In metals, current is carried by the flow of electrons. In semiconductors, current is often schematized as being carried either by the flow of electrons or by the flow of positively charged "holes" in the electron structure of the material (in both cases only electron movements are actually involved).

13 Fermi-Dirac statistics kt = E f /100 Occupation probability at E f is 1/2 f(e) kt = E f /2 kt = E f E/E f kt ~ 26 mev at 300 K

14 Insulators, semiconductors, and conductors The Fermi level is the energy, also called the chemical potential (μ) that appears in the electrons' Fermi-Dirac distribution function. A state at the Fermi level has a 50% chance of being occupied by an electron. n i 1 = / kt e ( ε μ ) i + 1

15 The Diode Equation Ideal Diodes The diode equation gives an expression for the current through a diode as a function of voltage. The Ideal Diode Law: where: I = the net current flowing through the diode; I 0 = "dark saturation current", the diode leakage current density in the absence of light; V = applied voltage across the terminals of the diode; q = absolute value of electron charge; k = Boltzmann's constant; and T = absolute temperature (K). The "dark saturation current" (I 0 ) is an extremely important parameter which differentiates one diode from another. I 0 is a measure of the recombination in a device. A diode with a larger recombination will have a larger I 0. Note that: I 0 increases as T increases; and I 0 decreases as material quality increases. At 300K, kt/q = mv, the "thermal voltage".

16 IV Curve The IV curve of a solar cell is the superposition of the IV curve in the dark with the lightgenerated current.[1] Illumination shifts the IV curve down into the fourth quadrant where power can be extracted from the diode. Illuminating a cell adds to the normal "dark" currents in the diode so that the diode law becomes: I qv = I0 exp 1 nkt I L where I L = light generated current. 1. Lindholm, F. A., J. G. Fossum, and E. L. Burgess, "Application of the superposition principle to solar-cell analysis", IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices, vol. 26, no. 3, pp , 1979.

17 Short circuit photocurrent The short-circuit current (I SC ) is the current through the solar cell when the voltage across the solar cell is zero (i.e., when the solar cell is short circuited). Usually written as I SC, the short-circuit current is shown on the IV curve below. I SC is due to the generation and collection of light-generated carriers. For an ideal PV cell with moderate resistive loss, I SC and the light-generated current are identical (I SC is the largest current which may be drawn from the solar cell).

18 Short circuit photocurrent (I SC ) The short-circuit current depends on a number of factors which are described below: the area of the solar cell. To remove the dependence of the solar cell area, it is more common to list the short-circuit current density (J sc in ma/cm 2 ) rather than the short-circuit current; the number of photons (i.e., the power of the incident light source). Isc from a solar cell is directly dependant on the light intensity as discussed in Effect of Light Intensity; the spectrum of the incident light. For most solar cell measurement, the spectrum is standardised to the AM1.5 spectrum; the optical properties (absorption and reflection) of the solar cell (discussed in Optical Losses); and the collection probability of the solar cell, which depends chiefly on the surface passivation and the minority carrier lifetime in the base. When comparing solar cells of the same material type, the most critical material parameter is the diffusion length and surface passivation. In a cell with perfectly passivated surface and uniform generation, the ( ) equation for the short-circuit current can be approximated as: J = qg L + L where G is the generation rate, and L n and L p are the e - and h + diffusion lengths respectively. The above equation indicates that J SC depends strongly on generation rate and the diffusion length. SC n p

19 Open circuit photovoltage (V OC ) The open-circuit voltage, V oc, is the maximum voltage available from a solar cell, and this occurs at zero current. The open-circuit voltage corresponds to the amount of forward bias on the solar cell due to the bias of the solar cell junction with the lightgenerated current. The open-circuit voltage is shown on the IV curve below. An equation for V oc is found by setting the net current equal to zero in the solar cell equation to give: V OC nkt I L = ln + 1 q Io

20 Solar cell fill factor (FF) At both of the operating points corresponding to I SC and V OC, the power from the solar cell is zero. The "fill factor (FF) is the parameter which, in conjunction with V oc and I sc, determines the maximum power from a solar cell. The FF is defined as the ratio of the maximum power from the solar cell to the product of V oc and I sc. Graphically, the FF is a measure of the "squareness" of the solar cell and is also the area of the largest rectangle which will fit in the IV curve. The FF is illustrated below: Graph of cell output current (red line) and power (blue line) as function of voltage. Also shown are the cell short-circuit current (I sc ) and open-circuit voltage (V oc ) points, as well as the maximum power point (V mp, I mp ). Click on the graph to see how the curve changes for a cell with low FF.

21 Solar cell efficiency The efficiency of a solar cell (sometimes known as the power conversion efficiency, or PCE, and also often abbreviated η) represents the ratio where the output electrical power at the maximum power point on the IV curve is divided by the incident light power typically using a standard AM1.5G simulated solar spectrum. The efficiency of a solar cell is determined as the fraction of incident power which is converted to electricity and is defined as: P max = V OC I SC FF η = V OC I P SC inc FF where V oc is the open-circuit voltage; where I sc is the short-circuit current; and where FF is the fill factor where η is the efficiency. In a 10 x 10 cm 2 cell the input power is 100 mw/cm 2 x 100 cm 2 = 10 W.

22 External and internal quantum efficiency Internal and external quantum efficiency are functions of wavelength, i.e., EQE( ) and QE( ): External quantum efficiency (EQE): Internal quantum efficiency (QE): EQE ( λ) = Electrons collected as photocurrent, per second Photons incident, per second QE ( λ) = Electrons collected as photocurrent, per second Photons absorbed, per second

23 Relationship between QE and J sc J SC = q b s ( E) QE( E)dE where b s (E) is the incident spectral photon flux density, i.e. the number of photons in the energy range E to E + de which are incident on unit area in unit time, and q is the electronic charge. QE depends upon the absorption coefficient of the solar cell materials, the efficiency of charge separation, and the efficiency of charge collection in the device; but it does not depend on the incident spectrum. The... energizing Physics of Ohio Solar for Cells, the 21st J. Century Nelson

24 Bonding in Materials and The periodic table

25 Common elemental components of semiconductors

26 Silicon (a semiconductor) Silicon is a semiconductor with individual atoms bonded together in a regular, periodic structure to form an arrangement whereby each atom is surrounded by 8 electrons. Each atom consists of a nucleus made up of a core of protons (positively charged particles) and neutrons (particles having no charge) surrounded by electrons. The number of electrons and protons is equal, such that the atom is overall electrically neutral. The electrons occupy certain energy levels, based on the number of electrons in the atom, which is different for each element in the periodic table. The structure of a semiconductor is shown in the figure below.

27 Electron configuration of the elements

28 Intrinsic, p-type, and n-type semiconductors Doping in a silicon crystal lattice with other atoms enables one to shift the balance of free electrons and holes. Choose an atom with an extra valence electron to produce "n-type" semiconductor material (this adds a free electron to the conduction band. Choose an atom with one too few valence electrons to produce p-type" semiconductor material (this results in acceptance of an electron from the valence band, adding a free hole to the valence band. In p-type material, the number of electrons trapped in bonds is higher, increasing the number of holes. In an n- or p-type doped material, there is always more of one type of carrier than the other and the type of carrier with the higher concentration is called a "majority carrier", while the lower concentration carrier is called a "minority carrier." Dopant P-type (positive) Group III (e.g. Boron) N-type (negative) Group V (e.g. Phosphorous) Bonds Missing Electrons (Holes) Excess Electrons Majority Carriers Holes Electrons Minority Carriers Electrons Holes

29 Trends in solar cell efficiencies Many different solar cell technologies are being developed, for various applications (rooftops, solar power plants, satellites, backpacks or clothing, etc.).

30 Xunlight 2nd gen.: thin film Si

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