The composition of Cu2ZnSnS4 thin-film solar cell absorbers was varied to induce the.formation of secondary impurity phases. For their identification, the samples have been investigated by Cu L3 and S L2,3 soft x-ray absorption (XAS) spectroscopy. We find that Cu L3 XAS is especially sensitive to the presence of copper sulfides as well as copper oxides and/or changes in the electron configuration, suggesting a basis for future studies of the surface, defect, and interface characterization of similar samples. Additionally, it is shown that the S L2,3 absorption data can be used as a very sensitive probe of the variations in the prevalence of S-Zn bonds in the near-surface region of the investigated samples.
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