(19)
(11)EP 1 798 777 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
27.07.2022 Bulletin 2022/30

(21)Application number: 06077166.4

(22)Date of filing:  04.12.2006
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
H01L 31/075(2012.01)
H01L 31/0687(2012.01)
H01L 31/0352(2006.01)
(52)Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC):
H01L 31/0352; H01L 31/075; Y02E 10/548; Y02E 10/544; H01L 31/0687

(54)

REDUCED BAND GAP ABSORBER FOR SOLAR CELLS

ABSORBERSCHICHT MIT VERMINDERTER BANDLÜCKE FÜR SOLARZELLEN

COUCHE ABSORBANTE DE BANDE INTERDITE RÉDUITE POUR CELLULES SOLAIRES


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC NL PL PT RO SE SI SK TR

(30)Priority: 19.12.2005 US 305967

(43)Date of publication of application:
20.06.2007 Bulletin 2007/25

(73)Proprietor: The Boeing Company
Chicago, IL 60606-1596 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • FETZER, Christopher M.
    Saugus, CA 91390 (US)
  • JOSLIN, David E.
    Valley Village, CA 91607 (US)
  • KRUT, Dmitri D.
    Encino, CA 91436 (US)
  • KING, Richard R.
    Thousand Oaks, CA 91360 (US)

(74)Representative: Duxbury, Stephen 
Arnold & Siedsma Bezuidenhoutseweg 57
2594 AC The Hague
2594 AC The Hague (NL)


(56)References cited: : 
US-A- 4 688 068
US-A1- 2005 247 339
US-A- 6 147 296
  
  • CORKISH R ET AL: "Dark currents in double-heterostructure and quantum-well solar cells", CONFERENCE RECORD OF THE 26TH IEEE PHOTOVOLTAIC SPECIALISTS CONFERENCE - 1997. PVSC '97. ANAHEIM, CA, SEPT. 29 - OCT. 3, 1997; [IEEE PHOTOVOLTAIC SPECIALISTS CONFERENCE], NEW YORK, NY : IEEE, US, 29 September 1997 (1997-09-29), pages 923-926, XP010268026, DOI: 10.1109/PVSC.1997.654238 ISBN: 978-0-7803-3767-1
  • S.M. RAMEY ET AL: "Modeling of multiple-quantum-well solar cells including capture, escape, and recombination of photoexcited carriers in quantum wells", IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ELECTRON DEVICES, vol. 50, no. 5, 5 May 2003 (2003-05-05), pages 1179-1188, XP055109977, ISSN: 0018-9383, DOI: 10.1109/TED.2003.813475
  • KIM N P ET AL: "High efficiency GaAs/CuInSe/sub 2/ tandem junction solar cells", 19880926; 19880926 - 19880930, 26 September 1988 (1988-09-26), pages 457-461, XP010070547,
  • LADE S J ET AL: "A revised ideal model for AlGaAs/GaAs quantum well solar cells", MICROELECTRONICS JOUR, MACKINTOSH PUBLICATIONS LTD. LUTON, GB, vol. 35, no. 5, 1 May 2004 (2004-05-01), pages 401-410, XP004497300, ISSN: 0026-2692, DOI: 10.1016/J.MEJO.2004.01.007
  • JACKREL D ET AL: "MBE grown GaInNAs solar cells for multijunction applications", CONFERENCE RECORD OF THE THIRTY-FIRST IEEE PHOTOVOLTAIC SPECIALIST CONFERENCE (IEEE CAT. NO. 05CH37608) IEEE PISCATAWAY, NJ, USA, IEEE, 3 January 2005 (2005-01-03), pages 854-857, XP010822900, DOI: 10.1109/PVSC.2005.1488267 ISBN: 978-0-7803-8707-2
  • C.-Y. Kim ET AL: "Improvement of short-circuit current of InP/InGaAsP/InP double heterojunction solar cells", ELECTRONICS LETTERS, vol. 41, no. 9, 28 April 2005 (2005-04-28) , pages 557-559, XP055493100, GB ISSN: 0013-5194, DOI: 10.1049/el:20050005
  • Takeshi Kitatani ET AL: "Photocurrent and Photoluminescence in InGaAs/GaAs Multiple Quantum Well Solar Cells", JAPANESE JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, vol. 35, no. Part 1, No. 8, 15 August 1996 (1996-08-15), pages 4371-4372, XP055734283, JP ISSN: 0021-4922, DOI: 10.1143/JJAP.35.4371
  • RIMADA J C ET AL: "Modelling of ideal AlGaAs quantum well solar cells", MICROELECTRONICS JOURNAL, MACKINTOSH PUBLICATIONS LTD. LUTON, GB, vol. 32, no. 9, 1 September 2001 (2001-09-01), pages 719-723, XP004255253, ISSN: 0026-2692, DOI: 10.1016/S0026-2692(01)00058-1
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description


[0001] The present invention relates generally to solar cells, and, in particular, to a method, apparatus, and article of manufacture of a reduced band gap absorber for solar cells.

[0002] Solar energy created through the photovoltaic effect is the main source of power for most commercial and government spacecraft. The amount of power generated by an array of solar cells is limited by the launch volume and launch weight. These restrictions limit the capability of the spacecraft. Similarly, any terrestrial solar cells are limited by the size of an array that can be installed in a given installation.

[0003] To be able to increase payload capability, or power delivery capability, the power per unit area for the solar cell array must be increased. Increasing the efficiency of the solar cell is of primary importance for enabling near-earth missions. The dominant solar cell technology for this application is a combination of subcells comprising Gallium Indium Phosphide (GaInP), Gallium Arsenide (GaAs), and Germanium (Ge), which is typically called a triple-junction, or "3J", device.

[0004] The current best efficiency of a 3J device at the Beginning Of Life (BOL) is 28.6%, which degrades over time to an End Of Life (EOL) final percentage. Solar cells used in space must survive for up to fifteen years in an environment rich in atomic oxygen and energetic sub-atomic particles, which degrades the solar cells significantly. The general objective of any change in the design of solar cells is to reduce the cost of the device, the BOL efficiency, or to decrease the rate of degradation such that the EOL efficiency is higher as well.

[0005] Several approaches have been used to try to make solar cells more efficient or less costly. One approach is to use a multiple quantum-well (MQW) approach, which makes the efficiency go up but also makes the cells much more expensive because of the tolerances required to make an MQW structure. Other approaches use layer thickening, additional subcell structures, or mismatch of the subcell materials, each of which adds to the cost as well as the weight of the cell, limiting the usefulness of such approaches.

[0006] It can be seen, then, that there is a need in the art for more efficient solar cells.

[0007] Patent document US 4,688,068, published 18 August 1987, describes a monolithic, quantum well, multilayer photovoltaic cell comprising a p-n junction comprising a p-region on one side and an n-region on the other side, each of which regions comprises a series of at least three semiconductor layers, all p-type in the p-region and all n-type in the n-region; each of said series of layers comprising alternating barrier and quantum well layers, each barrier layer comprising a semiconductor material having a first bandgap and each quantum well layer comprising a semiconductor material having a second bandgap when in bulk thickness which is narrower than said first bandgap, the barrier layers sandwiching each quantum well layer and each quantum well layer being sufficiently thin that the width of its bandgap is between said first and second bandgaps, such that radiation incident on said cell and above an energy determined by the bandgap of the quantum well layers will be absorbed and will produce an electrical potential across said junction.

[0008] Patent document US 2005/0247339 A1, published 10 November 2005, describes a method of operating a solar cell, in which strain balanced multiple quantum well stacks containing greater than 30 quantum wells disposed between bulk semi-conductor regions having a band gap differences between the deepest well of the stack and the bulk semi-conducting region of greater than 60 meV is irradiated with radiation having an intensity of greater than 100 suns. Photons are absorbed with and outside of the quantum well stack to generate electron hole pairs recombination of electrons and holes is substantially only via a radiative recombination mechanism.

[0009] Patent document US 6,147,296, published 14 November 2000, discloses a two-terminal tandem solar cell is provided. The inclusion of thin (few nm-thick) narrow band-gap InGaAs quantum wells in the intrinsic (i) region of the conventional p-i-n GaAs solar cell extends the photo-absorption of the conventional GaInP/GaAs tandem cell toward the infrared. Beginning-of-Life efficiencies in excess of 30% are predicted. Modeling data indicate end-of-life efficiency of these cells will exceed 25% AM0.

[0010] CORKISH, Richard et al., in "Dark currents in double-heterostructure and quantum-well solar cells", CONFERENCE RECORD OF THE 26TH IEEE PHOTOVOLTAIC SPECIALISTS CONFERENCE, 1997, PVSC '97, Anaheim, CA, Sept 29 - Oct. 3, 1997;[IEEE PHOTOVOLTAIC SPECIALISTS CONFERENCE], NEW YORK, NY: IEEE, US, 29 September 1997, pages 923-926, DOI: 10.1109/PVSC.1997.654238, ISBN: 978-0-7803-3767-1, describe numerical modelling that shows that the separation of the quasi-Fermi potentials in the lower bandgap region of a double-heterostructure may be less than the terminal voltage, resulting in smaller dark currents than would be expected if flat quasi-Fermi levels were assumed. QuasiFermi level variations occur as a response to carrier transport limitation by drift and diffusion within the spacecharge region or by thermionic emission. This is a possible explanation for the tow dark currents which have been measured in quantum-well p-i-n solar cells. This effect, together with evidence that photogenerated carriers can escape from quantum wells with high efficiency, suggests that the inclusion of low-bandgap regions in the depletion regions of solar cells may lead to high efficiency devices.

[0011] RAMEY, Stephen M., and KHOIE, Rahim, in "Modeling of Multiple-Quantum-Well Solar Cells Including Capture, Escape, and Recombination of Photoexcited Carriers in Quantum Wells, IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices, vol. 50, no. 5, 1 May 2003, pages 1179-1188, ISSN: 0018-9383, DOI: 10.1109/TED.2003.813475, describe a self-consistent numerical Poisson-Schrodinger drift-diffusion solver is described for simulation of multiple-quantum-well (MQW) AlxGa1-xAs-GaAs solar cells. The rates of escape, capture, and recombination of photoexcited carriers in quantum wells embedded in the intrinsic region of a p-i-n device are self-consistently incorporated in the model. The performance of the device or various quantum-well configurations is investigated and the device characteristics are related to the dynamics of capture, escape, absorption, and recombination of carriers in the quantum wells. Their esults show that the incorporation of MQWs in the intrinsic region of a p-i-n solar cell can improve the conversion efficiency of non-optimal devices, if the device is designed based on careful consideration of the behavior of the photoexcited carriers in the quantum wells. Specifically, they found out that an Al0.1Ga0.9As-GaAs cell with multiple quantum wells of 150 Å is more efficient than an identical single bandgap Al0.1Ga0.9As cell with no quantum wells, but less efficient than a single bandgap GaAs cell without such quantum wells.

[0012] JACKREL, D et al, in "MBE grown GaInNAs solar cells for multijunction applications", CONERENCE RECORD OF THE THIRTY-FIRST IEEE PHOTOVOLTAIC SPECIALIST CONFERENCE (IEEE CAT. NO. 05CH37608) IEEE PISCATAWAY, NJ, USA, IEEE, 3 January 2005 (2005-01-03), pages 854, 857, DOI: 10.1109/PVSC.2005.1488267, ISBN: 978-0-7803-8707-2, describe that triple-junction cells composed of III-V materials currently hold the world record for photovoltaic efficiency. In order to further increase cell efficiency in the future 4- and 5- junction cells incorporating a sub-cell with a bandgap of roughly 1.0 eV will be required. In this study 1.0 eV bandgap GalnNAs devices grown by solid source molecular beam epitaxy are investigated in terms of materials quality and device performance that show similar or better properties to the best MOVPE grown devices found in the literature. Deep-level transient spectroscopy measurements illustrate that the trap concentrations in the GalnNAs material are significantly lower than that of MOVPE grown material. The internal quantum efficiency (43%), open-circuit voltage (450 mV), shortcircuit current density (25. 76 rnA/cm2) and fill-factor (56.4%) of the GalnNAs devices under 1-sun power density 1064 nm radiation are similar to or surpass the properties of the best MOVPE GalnNAs devices found in the literature.

[0013] KIM, C.-Y. et al, in "Improvement of short-circuit current of InP/InGaAsP/InP double heterojunction solar cells", ELECTRONICS LETTERS, vol. 41, no. 9, 28 April 2005, pages 557-559, GB, ISSN: 0013-5194, DOI: 10.1049/el:20050005, describe an investigation of InP /InGaAsP double heterojunction (DH) solar cell to increase the short-circuit current. The InP /InGaAsP DH solar cell has been newly designed having a 1.12 eV InGaAsP absorption layer. Increases of 100% in short-circuit current and 50.18% in efficiency for the DH device are observed over the control sample.

[0014] To minimize the limitations in the prior art, and to minimize other limitations that will become apparent upon reading and understanding the present specification, the present invention provides methods and apparatuses for a dual heterojunction multijunction solar cell.

[0015] The present invention is set out in independent claims 1 and 2.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0016] Referring now to the drawings in which like reference numbers represent corresponding parts throughout:

FIG. 1 illustrates a triple junction solar cell of the related art;

FIG. 2 illustrates a subcell in a triple junction solar cell of the related art;

FIG. 3 illustrates a subcell in accordance of the present invention;

FIG. 4 illustrates a schematic of a well of lower band gap enclosed by regions of higher band gap material as used in the present invention;

FIG. 5 illustrates an example of the spectral response of an AlGaInP top subcell with and without the dual heterostructures of the present invention;

FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate comparisons between a standard cell, a MQW cell, and a DH cell of the present invention; and

FIG. 8 is a flowchart illustrating the steps of the present invention.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS



[0017] In the following description, reference is made to the accompanying drawings which form a part hereof, and which is shown, by way of illustration, several embodiments of the present invention. It is understood that other embodiments may be utilized and structural changes may be made without departing from the scope of appended claims.

Overview



[0018] The current 3J concept of GaInP/Ga(In)As/Ge is not optimal. This occurs because the layers are grown one on top of another epitaxially, and, to perform such growth, the lattice spacing of the materials must be very similar. The lattice constants for the material restricts the choices of materials available for cell combinations. Since the cells are electrically connected in series, the cell producing the lowest current will limit the current produced by the entire cell stack. As such, the current produced by each of the subcells should be approximately the same, or the excess current produced generates waste heat.

[0019] The natural GaInP material in the stack produces too much current compared to the Ga(In)As subcell. Typically, the GaInP subcell is thinned to balance the current. The optimal bandgap for a balanced current from the GaInP subcell is 2.0 eV.

[0020] To balance the current in the top and middle subcells of a 3J solar cell, there must be relatively thick layers of GaInP (usually Aluminum Gallium Indium Phosphide, or AlGaInP) and GaAs (usually Gallium Indium Arsenide, or GaInAs). Costwise, the thicker the layer, the more expensive it is to produce. Further, the device will weigh more, and will be more susceptible to degradation due to larger layers having a larger radiation exposure. To create a bandgap of 2.0 eV in AlGaInP, approximately four times as much material must be used to balance the current with the middle cell. As can be seen, this increases cost, weight, and decreases EOL efficiency.

[0021] MQW approaches have thinned the upper layers somewhat, but the quantum well layers now must be extremely thin. Thinner layers absorb less light, and, as such, many quantum wells must be employed to allow enough light to be absorbed to generate enough gain from the device. Typically, between 10 and 100 wells of an average thickness of 75 to 100 angstroms each are used. The advantage of quantum well generation of current is that the quantum confinement raises the allowed states in the well above the bandgap of the material, which usually provides for lower dark currents and a higher voltage for the quantum well compared to the bulk material. However, the elevated energy of the allowed states results fewer long-wavelength photons that can be absorbed and lower current density, imposing a penalty for cell performance in the multiple quantum well approach. Moreover, the MQW approach is typically accompanied by a loss in open circuit voltage, as well as additional costs to create the large number of very thin layers.

[0022] The present invention uses a small number of lower bandgap regions in the intrinsic or depletion region of one or more of the subcells of the solar cell. The regions are sufficiently thick so as not to be quantum well in nature, and relatively shallow such that generated carriers may easily escape. The required energy profile or substructure of the low band gap absorber region is arbitrary, which allows for lower tolerances on the fabrication of devices made using the present invention.

[0023] FIG. 1 illustrates a triple junction solar cell of the related art.

[0024] Cell 100 has regions where metal gridline 102 and a GaAs cap 102 cover the cell, and an Anti-Reflective (A/R) coating 103 covering the top subcell window 104. Top subcell 105 is typically an AlGaInP subcell, which has a Back Surface Field (BSF) 106. Top Tunnel Junction (TJ1) 107 is resident between the top cell 105 and the middle subcell window 108. Middle subcell 109 is typically GaInAs, or GaSbAs, which has a Tunnel Junction (TJ2) 110 between subcell 109 and a buffer layer 111. A nucleation layer 112 is placed between buffer layer 111 and the substrate 113, which is typically Germanium.

[0025] Incident light 114 strikes top surface 116 and is converted to electrical voltage and current in the top subcell 105, middle subcell 109, and the substrate 113. The top subcell 105, middle subcell 109, and substrate 113 each typically convert different wavelengths of light into electrical energy, and the subcells 105 and 109 and substrate 113 are chosen such that the wavelengths of light overlap to some degree to increase the efficiency of the solar cell 100.

[0026] FIG. 2 illustrates a subcell in a triple junction solar cell of the related art.

[0027] Subcell 200 shows an upper structure 201, a subcell window 202, an emitter 203, an intrinsic or depletion region 204, a base region 205, a BSF 206, and a lower structure 207. Although shown as an n-type on p-type subcell 200, a p-type on n-type subcell 200 can be made without departing from the scope of the present invention. FIG. 2 illustrates a typical top subcell 105, or middle subcell 109, with the adjoining subcell windows, BSF, etc. used for such subcells in a solar cell 100.

[0028] The problem with the related art is that height h 208 of base region 205 increases exponentially for top subcell 105. This effect occurs because the solar cell 100 is connected in series. The lowest current generating portion of solar cell 100, i.e., one of subcell 105, 109, and substrate 113, limits the current produced for the overall solar cell 100. The top subcell 105 is the limiting factor in terms of current generation, and, as such, the top subcell 105 must be made thicker in height 208. 2.0eV is the optimal bandgap by theory for top subcell 105. To produce a 2.0 eV top subcell 105, it must be thicker, which takes longer to grow and thus becomes more costly. Further, these thicker cells are more easily degraded by space environments, which depend on minority carrier travel distance through the cell. The thicker the cell, the farther minority carriers must travel. A degraded lattice structure prevents minority carriers from travelling very far without scattering or recombination.

Insertion of Low Band Gap Regions



[0029] FIG. 3 illustrates a subcell in accordance of the present invention.

[0030] Subcell 300 is shown with an upper structure 310, subcell window 302, emitter 303, low bandgap material 304, barrier material 305, low bandgap material 306, barrier material 307, base region 308, BSF 309, and lower structure 310. Rather than a single intrinsic region 204 as shown in FIG. 2, the present invention uses a stack of low band gap materials in the depletion region between emitter 303 and base 308 to build up the 2.0 eV top subcell (or any other subcell in solar cell 300). There can be a larger or smaller number of low band gap materials 304, 306 in a periodic or non-periodic structure, having a typical thickness w 312, and a larger or smaller number of barrier material regions 305, 307 having a typical thickness b 314, resident on top of base 308 having a thickness h 316. Each pair of low bandgap material 304/barrier material 305 is typically referred to as a Dual Heterostructure (DH).

[0031] Each low band gap material 304, 306 is a well layer, where w 312 is the width of the well. For quantum well structures, w 312 combined with b 314 is typically less than 200 angstroms. However, in the present invention, w 312 combined with b 314 is greater than 200 angstroms, and typically a few hundred angstroms, because the wells are not sufficiently thin to entrap a generated electron and change its quantum character, thus, there is no quantum confinement of generated electrons in specific energy states in layers 304 and 306. The present invention allows for the building of low band-gap regions (e.g. 304, 306) in the depletion region between emitter 303 and base 308, where these low band gap regions absorb light below the bandgap of the higher bandgap base 308 material. The current that is produced by generating electron-hole pairs as carriers, which are then swept from the depletion region (where layers 304-307 are) and collected at the higher band-gap emitter 303 and base 308 materials.

[0032] FIG. 4 illustrates a schematic of a well of lower band gap enclosed by regions of higher band gap material as used in the present invention.

[0033] The width w 312 of the absorber region (low band gap regions 304 and 306) has a depth 402. This depth can represent the difference to either the conduction band or the valence band of the material to show the confinement in the absorber regions 304 and 306. For a GaAs DH in an AlGaAs material with a depth of approximately 100 meV, the thickness is about 200 angstroms. At lower thicknesses, the DH begins acting like a quantum well, with the energy level of the lower bound state in the well becoming substantially higher than be bandgap of the well material. In the DH considered here, the influence of the quantum effect on the lowest energy transition in the well becomes indistinguishable from the bandgap, such that the lower bound state is within a fraction of the available thermal energy. When the DH is too thick, the quasi-Fermi levels in the depletion region may collapse to that of the low bandgap material and there will be a voltage drop in the open circuit voltage of the device 300. Further, the low bandgap regions (304, 306 and the barrier materials 305, 307) must be fully contained within the depletion region created by emitter 303 and base region 308. The depletion region is dependent upon the dopant densities of emitter 303 and base 308; as long as the DH pairs are located within the depletion region, the electric field in the depletion region accelerates the charges out of the DH and aids in their collection in the emitter 303 and base 308. Without the electric field, the generated carriers will remain in the DH and generate only dark current, which lowers the voltage and does not contribute to the current generated by the device 300.

Experimental Results



[0034] FIG. 5 illustrates an example of the spectral response of an AlGaInP top subcell with and without the dual heterostructures of the present invention.

[0035] Chart 500 shows the quantum efficiency on the x axis versus wavelength on the y-axis, with squares representing the efficiency of a related art 3J cell, and circles representing the efficiency of a 3Jcell with the Dual Heterostructures of the present invention. The DHs used in the structure were 250 angstroms thick, and there were three periods of DHs used in this experiment. Note that the solid line 502 shows the difference in efficiency of the device with the DHs present versus the related art 3J solar cell.

[0036] The related art solar cell has an AlGaInP top subcell (shown as element 105 in FIG. 1) having a bandgap of 1.98eV and the base thickness (shown as base 205 in FIG. 2) having a thickness 208 of 7000 angstroms. Note that there is not a change in absorption coefficient in changing to a quantum state with an inflection or step function density of states, and, as such, the DHs are not acting as quantum wells. There is a net gain of 0.550 mA/cm2 for the addition of the absorber region. This net gain came at the addition of approximately 1000 angstroms of thickness. To achieve a similar gain by traditional methods, eight quantum wells of 90 angstroms each could be added, or the base layer 205 could be thickened by about 5000 to 7000 angstroms of thickness. Therefore, the present invention saves a net of approximately 4000 to 6000 angstroms of material. Since this material accounts for approximately 50 percent of the growth cost, the savings is approximately 25 percent of the total growth cost to produce a 1.98 eV AlGaInP top subcell 300 over a similar top subcell 200.

[0037] FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate comparisons between a standard cell, a MQW cell, and a DH cell of the present invention.

[0038] FIG. 6 shows the open circuit voltage for a standard cell 600, for an MQW cell 602, and a DH cell 604. The average of 1.527 Volts for a standard cell 600, 1.517 Volts for an MQW cell 602, and 1.516 Volts for a DH cell 604 of the present invention, along with the error bars, show that there is no degradation in open circuit voltage for the DH approach.

[0039] FIG. 7 shows the spectral response current for a standard cell 700, for an MQW cell 702, and a DH cell 704. The MQW cell 704 has an increase of 0.46 mA average over the standard cell 700, and the DH cell 704 has a 0.42 mA average gain over the standard cell 700.

Flowchart



[0040] FIG. 8 is a flowchart illustrating the steps of the present invention.

[0041] Box 800 illustrates growing a base material for a solar cell.

[0042] Box 802 illustrates growing at least one dual heterojunction on the base material.

[0043] Box 804 illustrates growing an emitter on the at least one dual heterojunction.

Conclusion



[0044] In summary, embodiments of the invention provide methods and apparatuses for a dual heterojunction multijunction solar cell. A method in accordance with the present invention comprises growing a base material for a solar cell, growing at least one dual heterojunction on the base material, and growing an emitter on the at least one dual heterojunction.

[0045] Such a method further optionally includes the base, emitter, and at least one dual heterojunction being in a top cell of a triple junction solar cell, the at least one dual heterojunction being at least 200 angstroms in thickness, the at least one dual heterojunction being a stack of alternating low bandgap materials and barrier materials, the at least one dual heterojunction being contained within a depletion region created by the base material and the emitter, and a material for the low bandgap material being one or any alloy combination (continuous or digital) of: GaAs, GaInAs, GaInAsN, GaInAsNSb, GaInP, GaPN, GaInPN, InPN, InN, InNAs, GaInPAsN, InP, AlGaInP, GaAsP, AlGaAs, GaInAsP, GaSb, InSb, InAs, Ge, SiGe, SiGeC, SiGeSn, ZnGeAs, ZnGeSiAs, CuAlGaInS, CuAlGaInSe, as long as the alloy is of lower band gap than the host surrounding barrier layers and/or base/emitter material(s).

[0046] An apparatus in accordance with the present invention comprises a substrate, and a first subcell, coupled to the substrate, wherein the first subcell comprises a base region, coupled to the substrate, an emitter region, and at least one dual heterojunction, coupled between the base region and the emitter region, wherein the at least one dual heterojunction has a lower bandgap than the emitter region.

[0047] Such an apparatus further optionally includes a second subcell, coupled between the substrate and the first subcell, the at least one dual heterojunction being at least 200 angstroms in thickness, the at least one dual heterojunction being a stack of alternating low bandgap material and barrier materials, the at least one dual heterojunction being contained within a depletion region created by the emitter region and the base region, and a material for the dual heterojunction being gallium arsenide.

[0048] An alternate embodiment of the present invention comprises a dual heteroj unction region of at least 200 angstroms thickness, the dual heteroj unction region being contained within a depletion region of the solar cell, such that the dual heterojunction region generates additional current in the solar cell by absorbing incident light within the dual heterojunction region.

[0049] Such an embodiment optionally further includes the dual heterojunction region being in a top subcell of a multijunction solar cell.

[0050] The foregoing description of the preferred embodiment of the invention has been presented for the purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. It is intended that the scope of the invention be limited not by this detailed description, but rather by the claims appended hereto.


Claims

1. A dual heterojunction multijunction solar cell (100), comprising:

a substrate (113);

a first subcell (300), coupled to the substrate (310), wherein the first subcell (300) comprises a base region (308), coupled to the substrate (310), an emitter region (303), and a plurality of dual heterojunctions, coupled between the base region (308) and the emitter region (303), wherein each of the dual heterojunctions have a lower bandgap than the emitter region (303); and

a second subcell, coupled between the substrate (310) and the first subcell (300),

wherein each of the dual heterojunctions is at least 200 angstroms in thickness,

wherein each of the dual heterojunctions is a pair of alternating low bandgap material (304, 306) and barrier material (305, 307), and

wherein each of the dual heterojunctions is contained within a depletion region created by the emitter region (303) and the base region (308), such that the dual heterojunction region is configured to generate additional current in the solar cell (100) by absorbing incident light within the dual heterojunction region,

wherein a material for the low bandgap material (304, 306) is one or any alloy combination, continuous or digital, of: GaAs, GaInAs, GaInAsN, GaInAsNSb, GaInP, GaPN, GaInPN, InPN, InN, InNAs, GaInPAsN, InP, AlGaInP, GaAsP, AlGaAs, GaInAsP, GaSb, InSb, InAs, Ge, SiGe, SiGeC, SiGeSn, ZnGeAs, ZnGeSiAs, CuAlGaInS, CuAlGaInSe, as long as the alloy is of lower band gap than the host surrounding barrier layers and/or base/emitter material(s),

wherein a thickness of the low bandgap material (304, 306) is such that there is no quantum confinement of generated electrons in specific energy states in the low bandgap material (304, 306).


 
2. A method for creating a dual heterojunction multijunction solar cell, comprising:

growing (800) a base material for a solar cell;

growing (802) a plurality of dual heterojunctions on the base material; and

growing (804) an emitter on the at least one dual heterojunction,

wherein the base, emitter, and the dual heterojunctions are in a top cell of a triple junction solar cell,

wherein each of the dual heterojunctions is at least 200 angstroms in thickness,

wherein each of the dual heterojunctions is a pair of alternating low bandgap material and barrier material, and

wherein each of the dual heterojunctions is contained within a depletion region created by the emitter region and the base region, such that the dual heterojunction region is configured to generate additional current in the solar cell by absorbing incident light within the dual heterojunction region,

wherein a material for the low bandgap material is one or any alloy combination, continuous or digital, of: GaAs, GaInAs, GaInAsN, GaInAsNSb, GaInP, GaPN, GaInPN, InPN, InN, InNAs, GaInPAsN, InP, AlGaInP, GaAsP, AlGaAs, GaInAsP, GaSb, InSb, InAs, Ge, SiGe, SiGeC, SiGeSn, ZnGeAs, ZnGeSiAs, CuAlGaInS, CuAlGaInSe, as long as the alloy is of lower band gap than the host surrounding barrier layers and/or base/emitter material(s),

wherein a thickness of the low bandgap material is such that there is no quantum confinement of generated electrons in specific energy states in the low bandgap material.


 


Ansprüche

1. Multiübergang-Solarzelle (100) mit dualen Heteroübergängen, die Folgendes umfasst:

ein Substrat (113); und

eine mit dem Substrat (310) gekoppelte erste Subzelle (300), wobei die erste Subzelle (300) einen mit dem Substrat (310) gekoppelten Basisbereich (308), einen Emitterbereich (303) und eine Vielzahl von dualen Heteroübergängen umfasst, die zwischen dem Basisbereich (308) und dem Emitterbereich (303) gekoppelt sind, wobei jeder der dualen Heteroübergänge eine geringere Bandlücke als der Emitterbereich (303) aufweist; und

eine zweite Subzelle, die zwischen dem Substrat (310) und der ersten Subzelle (300) gekoppelt ist,

wobei jeder der dualen Heteroübergänge mindestens 200 Angström dick ist,

wobei es sich bei jedem der dualen Heteroübergänge um ein Paar aus abwechselndem Material (304, 306) mit niedriger Bandlücke und Sperrmaterial (305, 307) handelt, und

wobei jeder der dualen Heteroübergänge innerhalb eines Verarmungsbereich enthalten ist, der durch den Emitterbereich (303) und den Basisbereich (308) erzeugt wird, so dass der Bereich mit dualem Heteroübergang eingerichtet ist, um zusätzlichen Strom in der Solarzelle (100) zu erzeugen, indem einfallendes Licht innerhalb des Bereichs mit dualem Heteroübergang absorbiert wird,

wobei es sich bei einem Material für das Material (304, 306) mit niedriger Bandlücke um eine oder eine beliebige Legierungskombination, kontinuierlich oder digital, aus den Folgenden handelt: GaAs, GaInAs, GaInAsN, GaInAsNSb, GaInP, GaPN, GaInPN, InPN, InN, InNAs, GaInPAsN, InP, AlGaInP, GaAsP, AlGaAs, GaInAsP, GaSb, InSb, InAs, Ge, SiGe, SiGeC, SiGeSn, ZnGeAs, ZnGeSiAs, CuAlGaInS, CuAlGaInSe, solange die Legierung eine geringere Bandlücke aufweist als die den Wirt umgebenden Sperrschichten und/oder Basis- /Emittermaterial(ien),

wobei eine Dicke des Materials (304, 306) mit niedriger Bandlücke derart ist, dass es keine Quanteneinschränkung von erzeugten Elektronen in spezifischen Energiezuständen in dem Material (304, 306) mit niedriger Bandlücke gibt.


 
2. Verfahren zum Erzeugen einer Multiübergang-Solarzelle mit dualen Heteroübergängen, wobei das Verfahren Folgendes umfasst:

Aufwachsen (800) eines Basismaterials für eine Solarzelle;

Aufwachsen (802) einer Vielzahl von dualen Heteroübergängen auf dem Basismaterial; und

Aufwachsen (804) eines Emitters auf dem mindestens einen dualen Heteroübergang,

wobei die Basis, der Emitter und die dualen Heteroübergänge sich in einer oberen Zelle einer Dreifachübergang-Solarzelle befinden,

wobei jeder der dualen Heteroübergänge mindestens 200 Angström dick ist,

wobei es sich bei jedem der dualen Heteroübergänge um ein Paar aus abwechselndem Material mit niedriger Bandlücke und Sperrmaterial handelt, und

wobei jeder der dualen Heteroübergänge innerhalb eines Verarmungsbereichs enthalten ist, der durch den Emitterbereich und den Basisbereich erzeugt wird, so dass der Bereich mit dualem Heteroübergang eingerichtet ist, um zusätzlichen Strom in der Solarzelle zu erzeugen, indem einfallendes Licht innerhalb des Bereichs mit dualem Heteroübergang absorbiert wird,

wobei es sich bei einem Material für das Material mit niedriger Bandlücke um eine oder eine beliebige Legierungskombination, kontinuierlich oder digital, aus den Folgenden handelt: GaAs, GaInAs, GaInAsN, GaInAsNSb, GaInP, GaPN, GaInPN, InPN, InN, InNAs, GaInPAsN, InP, AlGaInP, GaAsP, AlGaAs, GaInAsP, GaSb, InSb, InAs, Ge, SiGe, SiGeC, SiGeSn, ZnGeAs, ZnGeSiAs, CuAlGaInS, CuAlGaInSe, solange die Legierung eine geringere Bandlücke aufweist als die den Wirt umgebenden Sperrschichten und/oder Basis- /Emittermaterial(ien),

wobei eine Dicke des Materials mit niedriger Bandlücke derart ist, dass es keine Quanteneinschränkung von erzeugten Elektronen in spezifischen Energiezuständen in dem Material mit niedriger Bandlücke gibt.


 


Revendications

1. Cellule solaire multijonction à double hétérojonction (100), comprenant :

un substrat (113), et

une première sous-cellule (300), couplée au substrat (310), ladite première sous-cellule (300) comprenant une région de base (308) couplée au substrat (310), une région d'émission (303) et une pluralité de doubles hétérojonctions, couplées entre la région de base (308) et la région d'émission (303), chacune des doubles hétérojonctions ayant une bande interdite inférieure à celle de la région d'émission (303), et

une deuxième sous-cellule, couplée entre le substrat (310) et la première sous-cellule (300) ;

chacune des doubles hétérojonctions faisant au moins 200 angströms d'épaisseur,

chacune des doubles hétérojonctions consistant en une paire de matériau à faible bande interdite (304, 306) et matériau barrière (305, 307) en alternance, et

chacune des doubles hétérojonctions étant contenue au sein d'une région d'appauvrissement créée par la région d'émission (303) et la région de base (308), de telle manière que la région de double hétérojonction est conçue pour générer un courant supplémentaire dans la cellule solaire (100) par absorption de la lumière incidente au sein de la région de double hétéroj onction,

une matière servant de matériau à faible bande interdite (304, 306) est l'une des matières suivantes, ou tout alliage des matières suivantes, continu ou discontinu : GaAs, GaInAs, GaInAsN, GaInAsNSb, GaInP, GaPN, GaInPN, InPN, InN, InNAs, GaInPAsN, InP, AlGaInP, GaAsP, AlGaAs, GaInAsP, GaSb, InSb, InAs, Ge, SiGe, SiGeC, SiGeSn, ZnGeAs, ZnGeSiAs, CuAlGaInS, CuAlGaInSe, tant que l'alliage a une bande interdite inférieure à celle des couches barrières hôtes environnantes et/ou de la ou des matières de base/d'émission,

une épaisseur du matériau à faible bande interdite (304, 306) est telle qu'il n'y a pas de confinement quantique des électrons générés dans des états énergétiques spécifiques dans le matériau à faible bande interdite (304, 306).


 
2. Procédé de création d'une cellule solaire multijonction à double hétérojonction, comprenant :

la croissance (800) d'un matériau de base destiné à une cellule solaire,

la croissance (802) d'une pluralité de doubles hétérojonctions sur le matériau de base, et

la croissance (804) d'un émetteur sur l'au moins une double hétérojonction ;

ladite base, ledit émetteur et lesdites doubles hétérojonctions se trouvant dans une cellule supérieure d'une cellule solaire à triple jonction,

chacune des doubles hétérojonctions faisant au moins 200 angströms d'épaisseur,

chacune des doubles hétérojonctions consistant en une paire de matériau à faible bande interdite et matériau barrière en alternance, et

chacune des doubles hétérojonctions étant contenue au sein d'une région d'appauvrissement créée par la région d'émission et la région de base, de telle manière que la région de double hétéroj onction est conçue pour générer un courant supplémentaire dans la cellule solaire par absorption de la lumière incidente au sein de la région de double hétéroj onction,

une matière servant au matériau à faible bande interdite est l'une des matières suivantes, ou tout alliage des matières suivantes, continu ou discontinu : GaAs, GaInAs, GaInAsN, GaInAsNSb, GaInP, GaPN, GaInPN, InPN, InN, InNAs, GaInPAsN, InP, AlGaInP, GaAsP, AlGaAs, GaInAsP, GaSb, InSb, InAs, Ge, SiGe, SiGeC, SiGeSn, ZnGeAs, ZnGeSiAs, CuAlGaInS, CuAlGaInSe, tant que l'alliage a une bande interdite inférieure à celle des couches barrières hôtes environnantes et/ou de la ou des matières de base/d'émission,

une épaisseur du matériau à faible bande interdite (304, 306) est telle qu'il n'y a pas de confinement quantique des électrons générés dans des états énergétiques spécifiques dans le matériau à faible bande interdite.


 




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Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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Patent documents cited in the description




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