Flexible GaAs solar cells on roll-to-roll processed epitaxial Ge films on metal foils: a route towards low-cost and high-performance III–V photovoltaics†
In this report, we describe a unique roll-to-roll plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (R2R-PECVD) technique to grow high-quality single-crystalline-like Ge films on flexible metal foils, an important advancement towards scalable processing of epitaxial Ge films at low-cost. Ion-beam assisted deposition was used to create single-crystalline-like substrate templates to enable epitaxial growth of Ge films. The Ge films were highly (004) oriented, biaxially-textured and showed remarkable crystalline quality, equivalent to single-crystal Ge wafers. Subsequently, the Ge films on metal foils were used as substrates to fabricate flexible GaAs single-junction solar cell by metal-oxide chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD). The champion device showed efficiency of 11.5%, and the average efficiency of four devices was 8% at 1 sun, the highest reported on GaAs PV directly deposited on alternative flexible substrates. Devices made on CVD-Ge film exhibited significantly improved performance compared to the ones grown on sputtered Ge films. Scalable production of inexpensive and flexible epi-Ge films will not only be useful for developing low-cost and high-performance III–V solar cells, but also for emerging flexible electronic devices applications.