Materials Characterization Techniques for Solar Cell Devices: Imaging, Compositional and Structural Analysis

Materials Characterization Techniques for Solar Cell Devices: Imaging, Compositional and Structural Analysis

Michael S. Hatzistergos
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1996-8.ch011
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Characterization of an issue provides the required information to determine the root cause of a problem and direct the researcher towards the appropriate solution. Through the explosion of nanotechnology in the past few years, the use of sophisticated analytical equipment has become mandatory. There is no one analytical technique that can provide all the answers a researcher is looking for. Therefore, a large number of very different instruments exist, and knowing which one is best to employ for a specific problem is key to success.
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Everyone has heard of the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words.” When we are presented with a sample that does not “work,” our first reaction is to examine it and see if there is something obviously wrong with it. The following section will cover the most commonly used techniques that are used to examine a specimen.

Optical Microscopy

Optical microscopy is the first line of defense. It is often the first technique used to assess the condition of a sample and such instruments are found in almost every laboratory. Optical microscopy is used to examine surfaces for imperfections, contaminants, micro-cracks or to make ourselves familiar with the sample and make markings that can be used later in a different technique to more easily navigate to the region of interest. Variations of brightfield microscopy are also used to extract information that may not be otherwise visible (e.g. darkfield, uv fluorescence and polarized light microscopy).

Little or no sample preparation is required and optical inspection of interior features is possible through optically transparent layers. Using calibrated magnification standards, feature sizes down to a few micrometers can be seen and measured (the magnification limit is of the order of 2000x in air).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Composition: Composition refers to identity and fraction of each element/ingredient present in a material.

Crystal Structure: Crystal structure refers to the arrangement of atoms in a material.

Imaging: Imaging is the visual representation of an objects property.

Analytical Technique: An analytical technique is a procedure used to determine material properties.

Characterization: Characterization in materials science refers to the procedure of using a series of analytical techniques

Qualitative Analysis: Qualitative analysis is a procedure used to determine what elements are present in a material.

Quantitative Analysis: Quantitative analysis is a procedure used to determine the fraction of each element in a material.

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