CdTe polycrystalline thin film solar cells have a strong potential in scalability. They have shown long-term stable performance and high efficiency up to 16.5% under AM1.5 illumination. Amongst several attractive features, high chemical stability of CdTe and a simple compound formation are the most important ones for large area production of solar modules. A further simplification has been done by substituting the CdCl2 step by treating CdTe films in an atmosphere containing a non toxic gas that is inert at room temperature, like HCF2Cl, that belongs to the Freon© family. The treatment temperature is typically 400°C, for a few minutes and in an atmosphere containing Cl, typically 100 mbar of Ar containing 15% of HCF2Cl. The change in the morphology of CdTe films after treatment is very similar to that obtained with CdCl2 treatment and an increase in the size of small grains is always observed. This process has been applied by N. Romeo et al. on CdTe deposited by close-spaced sublimation (CSS) with very interesting results (15.8% efficiency). The application of the regular CdCl2 treatment and of this novel “activation process” on low and high temperature processed solar cells will be described Moreover, there are new promising device configurations like bifacial solar cells, ultra-thin solar cells and flexible devices. The highest efficiencies in CdTe solar cells have been obtained using CSS deposition method, which requires a high substrate temperature (500÷550 °C). Instead, conventional physical vapor deposition (PVD) process where CdTe is evaporated in a high vacuum evaporation (HVE) system at lower substrate temperatures (typically 300°C) has provided solar cells with efficiencies of more than 12%. For these reasons HVE process is attractive for a very simple in-line deposition of large area CdTe solar modules on soda-lime glass substrates, as well as on polymer foils thereby facilitating the roll-to-roll manufacturing of flexible solar modules.
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