Etching process optimization of non-vacuum fabricated Cu2ZnSnS4 solar cell


Thin-film solar cell based on kesterite material Cu2ZnSnS4 (CZTS) is one of the third generation prospective solar cells replacing commercial Cu(Inx, Ga1−x)S2 (CIGS) material. However, the substitution of rare In and Ga material by Zn and Sn still requires further fabrication optimization. The secondary phases that formed during the fabrication process might have prohibited cell performance. Therefore, this work is essential to focus on introducing the etching process using 5% HCl with an etching time of 0, 100, 300, 480, and 600 s in order to minimize the secondary phases of Cu2S, SnS. SnS2, and ZnS during non-vacuum fabrication of Cu2ZnSnS4 kesterite. This Cu2ZnSnS4 active material works as a p-type semiconductor in thin layer solar cells. The film was deposited by the spin coating method with the standard structure of Mo/Cu2ZnSnS4/CdS/AZO/Ag. Characterization was carried out by X-ray diffraction (XRD) testing, scanning electron microscope–energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM–EDX), UV–Vis spectroscopy, Tauc Plot analysis, and light-harvesting efficiency. The best results showed that the introduction of etching treatment using 5% HCl for 300 s in the CZTS layer has successfully reduced the secondary phases of ZnS, Cu2S, and SnS2 by 28.9, 5.8, and 0.3%, respectively. This absorber layer has contributed to achieving the maximum light-harvesting efficiency (LHE) of 95.2% with a bandgap of 1.76 eV. Interestingly, the treatment does not significantly contribute to changing the surface morphology and the grain size of Cu2ZnSnS4 kesterite film, but it affects the pores on the surface of the absorber layer due to the ZnS secondary phase reduction.

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Refantero, G., Prima, E.C., Setiawan, A. et al. Etching process optimization of non-vacuum fabricated Cu2ZnSnS4 solar cell. J Mater Sci: Mater Electron 31, 3674–3680 (2020).

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