Advanced Energy Materials

Chemical Consequences of Alkali Inhomogeneity in Cu2ZnSnS4 Thin-Film Solar Cells

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This study offers new insight into the role of Na in Cu2ZnSnS4 (CZTS) thin film solar cells by studying samples with a spatially varying alkali distribution. This is achieved by omitting a diffusion barrier between the soda-lime glass substrate and the Mo back contact, where compositional variations of the glass inherently result in non-uniform alkali distributions in the CZTS. By correlating light beam induced current (LBIC) maps with secondary ion mass spectrometry composition maps, it is shown that samples containing regions of higher Na concentration ("hot spots") have corresponding LBIC hot spots on comparable length scales. Samples containing an alkali diffusion barrier have lower LBIC dispersion; thus, LBIC can be used to evaluate non-uniformity in CZTS devices, where a common cause is Na inhomogeneity. Moreover, it is shown that the Na hot spots are strongly correlated with other compositional variations in the device, including increased Cu in-diffusion with the underlying MoS2 layer and decreased diffusion of Cd to the back contact. Neither of these effects are well understood in CZTS devices, and neither have previously been correlated with the presence or absence of Na.