Development of an operando characterization stage for multi-modal synchrotron x-ray experiments

Trumann Walker, Tara Nietzold, Niranjana Mohan Kumar, Barry Lai, Kevin Stone, Michael E. Stuckelberger, Mariana I. Bertoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is widely accepted that micro- and nanoscale inhomogeneities govern the performance of many thin-film solar cell absorbers. These inhomogeneities yield material properties (e.g., composition, structure, and charge collection) that are challenging to correlate across length scales and measurement modalities. The challenge is compounded if a correlation is sought during device operation or in conditions that mimic aging under particular stressors (e.g., heat and electrical bias). Correlative approaches, particularly those based on synchrotron x-ray sources, are powerful since they can access several material properties in different modes (e.g., fluorescence, diffraction, and absorption) with minimal sample preparation. Small-scale laboratory x-ray instruments have begun to offer multi-modality but are typically limited by low x-ray photon flux, low spatial resolution, or specific sample sizes. To overcome these limitations, a characterization stage was developed to enable multi-scale, multi-modal operando measurements of industrially relevant photovoltaic devices. The stage offers compatibility across synchrotron x-ray facilities, enabling correlation between nanoscale x-ray fluorescence microscopy, microscale x-ray diffraction microscopy, and x-ray beam induced current microscopy, among others. The stage can accommodate device sizes up to 25 × 25 mm2, offering access to multiple regions of interest and increasing the statistical significance of correlated properties. The stage materials can sustain humid and non-oxidizing atmospheres, and temperature ranges encountered by photovoltaic devices in operational environments (e.g., from 25 to 100 °C). As a case study, we discuss the functionality of the stage by studying Se-alloyed CdTe photovoltaic devices aged in the stage between 25 and 100 °C.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number065113
JournalReview of Scientific Instruments
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation


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