Chalcopyrites are important contenders among solar cell technologies due to direct band gap and higher absorption coefficient. CuIn1-xGaxS2 (CIGS2) thin-film solar cells are of interest for space power applications because of near optimum bandgap of 1.5 eV for AM0 solar radiation outside the earth's atmosphere. The record efficiency of 11.99% has been achieved on a 2.7 µm CIGS2 thin film prepared by sulfurization at FSEC PV Materials Laboratory. Since CIGS2 films are typically grown in copper-rich regime, excess cuprous sulfide which helps in the formation of CIGS2 is etched away. This makes CIGS2 nearly stoichiometric. However, it is difficult to adjust Cu/(In+Ga) ratio in the desired range 0.7 to 0.9. A solution to this is to grow CIGS2 in copper-deficient regime. However, it is difficult to produce device quality films without the support of cuprous sulfide. This work is one of the very few attempts in which device quality films were formed even in copper-deficient regimes with the addition of sodium. Also, recent research endeavors in the CIGS2 thin film photovoltaic community are directed towards thinner films because the availability and cost of indium as well as gallium are limiting factors. The required amounts of rare and expensive metals can be lowered by using thinner films. The solar cell performance in the thinner absorbers deteriorates due to the detrimental effects of the larger fraction of grain boundaries. It is essential to hasten the grain growth through coalescence to retain high efficiency in devices prepared using thinner films. Large grain size that is desirable for obtaining high efficiency cells can be achieved by creating conditions of fewer nucleation sites and large mobilities of the deposited species. Sodium has been found to play a vital role by enhancing the atomic mobility and improving the coalescence even in thinner films. This work presents a study of morphology and device properties of CIGS2 thin films with Copper-deficient absorbers after minute amounts of sodium are introduced on the Mo-coated substrate in the form of sodium fluoride layer prior to sputter deposition of copper-gallium alloy and indium. Photovoltaic conversion efficiency of 9.15% was obtained for copper-deficient absorbers. In a parallel set of experiments, copper-rich precursors were used to produce absorbers of lower thickness range values and the parameters were optimized. Photovoltaic conversion efficiency of 10.12% was obtained for an absorber of thickness 1.5 µm and an efficiency of 9.62% was obtained for an absorber of thickness 1.2 µm.

Graduation Date





Dhere, Neelkanth G.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering









Release Date

March 2014

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)