The charge transfer dynamics at interfaces are fundamental to know the mechanism of photovoltaic processes. The internal potential in solar cell devices depends on the basic processes of photovoltaic effect such as charge carrier generation, separation, transport, recombination, etc. Here we report the direct observation of the surface potential depth profile over the cross-section of the ZnO nanorods/Cu2O based solar cell for two different layer thicknesses at different wavelengths of light using Kelvin probe force microscopy. The topography and phase images across the cross-section of the solar cell are also observed, where the interfaces are well-defined on the nanoscale. The potential profiling results demonstrate that under white light illumination, the photoinduced electrons in Cu2O inject into ZnO due to the interfacial electric field, which results in the large difference in surface potential between two active layers. However, under a single wavelength illumination, the charge carrier generation, separation, and transport processes between two active layers are limited, which affect the surface potential images and corresponding potential depth profile. Because of changes in the active layer thicknesses, small variations have been observed in the charge carrier transport mechanism inside the device. These results provide the clear idea about the charge carrier distribution inside the solar cell in different conditions and show the perfect illumination condition for large carrier transport in a high performance solar cell.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6139-6146
Number of pages8
JournalACS Nano
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2016


  • charge carrier
  • interface
  • Kelvin probe force microscopy
  • surface potential
  • ZnO nanorods/CuO


Dive into the research topics of 'Observation of Space Charge Dynamics Inside an All Oxide Based Solar Cell'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this