The continuous “green stimulus" to look for sustainable and affordable energy sources is launching ultrathin based solar cells as frontrunners in the photovoltaic market. Ultrathin solar cells are gaining relevance, due to their potential for savings in material resources and processing time. Nevertheless, the reduction of the absorber thickness down to a sub-µm range, raises two major intrinsic concerns: increased rear interface recombination and insufficient light absorption. Those may be overcome through the incorporation of a dielectric passivation layer between the rear contact and the absorber . Furthermore, by having a very high area of rear contact covered by a transparent dielectric layer- 70-99 %- in the contact structure , there is freedom to add extra functionality between the passivation and rear contact , leading to high-performance substrates (HPS). Cu(In,Ga)Se2 (CIGS) based ultrathin technology is used to showcase the HPS’s optoelectronic potential, and review some of the novel substrates architectures developed by the Nanofabrication for Optoelectronic Applications - NOA - group from INL. Optical simulations are used to guide the HPS schemes contact architecture, dielectric material, and how highly reflective metals and nanostructures can be incorporated for optimum optical gains. Advanced characterization is used for evaluation of the HPS integration in CIGS solar cells leading to increased figures of merit values over conventional ultrathin CIGS based devices, due to efficient chemical passivation of interface active defects density, built-in electrical field, and light management schemes.
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Filipe Veloso e Pedro Costa