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Physics Colloquium - Friday, Oct. 3rd, 2008, 4:00 P.M.

E300 Math/Science Center; Refreshments at 3:30 P.M. in Room E200

Ian Ferguson - School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

Development of Wide-Band Gap InGaN Solar Cells for High-Efficiency Photovoltaics

Main objective of the present work is to develop wide-band gap InGaN solar cells in the 2.4 - 2.9 eV range that can be an integral component of photovoltaic devices to achieve efficiencies greater than 50%. In the present work, various challenges in the novel III-nitride technology are identified and overcome individually to build basic design blocks, and later, optimized comprehensively to develop high-performance InGaN solar cells. Due to the unavailability of a suitable modeling program for InGaN solar cells, PC1D is modified up to a source-code level to incorporate spontaneous and piezoelectric polarization in order to accurately model III-nitride solar cells. On the technological front, InGaN with indium compositions up to 30% (2.5 eV band gap) are developed for photovoltaic applications by controlling defects and phase separation using metal-organic chemical vapor deposition. InGaN with band gap of 2.5 eV is also successfully doped to achieve acceptor carrier concentration of 1018 cm-3. A robust fabrication scheme for III-nitride solar cells is established to increase reliability and yield; various schemes including interdigitated grid contact and current spreading contacts are developed to yield low-resistance Ohmic contacts for InGaN solar cells. Preliminary solar cells are developed using a standard design to optimize the InGaN material, where the band gap of InGaN is progressively lowered. Subsequent generations of solar cell designs involve an evolutionary approach to enhance the open-circuit voltage and internal quantum efficiency of the solar cell. The suitability of p-type InGaN with band gaps as low as 2.5 eV is established by incorporating in a solar cell and measuring an open-circuit voltage of 2.1 V. Second generation InGaN solar cell design involving a 2.9 eV InGaN p-n junction sandwiched between p- and n-GaN layers yields internal quantum efficiencies as high as 50%; while sixth generation devices utilizing the novel n-GaN strained window-layer enhance the open circuit voltage of a 2.9 eV InGaN solar cell to 2 V. Finally, key aspects to further InGaN solar cell research, including integration of various designs, are recommended to improve the efficiency of InGaN solar cells. These results establish the potential of III-nitrides in ultra-high efficiency photovoltaics.

Ian T. Ferguson is a Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and Director for the Focused Research Center Next Generation Lighting. His research focuses on the area of wide band-gap materials and devices (emitters, detectors and electronics) using GaN and ZnO and developing these materials for illumination and spintronic applications. He has over 200 refereed publications, six book chapters, edited ten conference proceedings, two books and multiple patents. He teaches undergraduate, graduate and short courses on solid state lighting and illumination engineering.