Electron Spectroscopy of Surfaces and Interfaces for Novel Solid State Photovoltaic Cells

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Atip Pengpad


Novel photovoltaic cells receive considerable attention from researchers as evidenced by high numbers of published articles. Different types of materials are currently being examined in order to reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of solar cells. Essentially, solar cells are constructed by placing layers of light absorber between electron and hole transport materials. Electricity generation by solar cells involves multiple processes. These processes require an understanding of the physical properties of the surfaces and interfaces of the materials.In this thesis, materials for novel photovoltaic cells are studied by X ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), a surface and interface characterisation technique. The materials studied in this thesis are colloidal quantum dots (CQDs) of the core/shell systems CdTe/CdSe and PbS/CdS, and CQDs that have been surface passivated using Cl- (CdTe/Cl) and CdS (CdTe/CdSe/CdS and PbS/CdS). Moreover, CsSnI3, a perovskite material, is also studied in both bulk and thin film form. CQDs can be used as light absorbers in solar cells while CsSnI3 can be employed as the hole transport material.The role of the core shell structure and surface passivation treatment is to improve or maintain charge transport as well as acting as a protective layer to the CQDs. Depth profiling synchrotron radiation XPS is used to determine these structures. In the CdTe/CdSe samples, the elemental ratio between Se (shell) and Te (core) increases with decreasing sampling depth, demonstrating the presence of a CdSe shell located at the surface of the CQDs. The shell thicknesses of the core-shell systems are estimated from XPS and show that the addition of the third thin shell (of CdS) protects the CQD during ligand exchange. Cl- passivation is shown to reduce the energy the valence band maximum and the energy gap of CdTe CQDs. This is associated with the passivation of midgap trap states due to the removal of dangling bonds at the surface of CQDs. Surface passivation is shown to improve the stability of CQDs to air exposure. This is indicated by a significant reduction of the surface oxide species in the passivated PbS/CdS samples. In the unpassivated core-only PbS samples, however, oxidation rapidly occurs which affects the electronic states required for charge transport in solar cells.XPS studies of CsSnI3 show that this material is reactive to air exposure. Surface preparation techniques are performed to remove the contamination layer and reveal the physical properties of the perovskite itself. This is confirmed by the elemental ratios from XPS. The metallic character of CsSnI3 is also observed in the valence band spectra as evidenced by the appearance of the Fermi edge.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 Aug 2017