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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Absorption Coefficient of a Semiconductor Thin Film from Photoluminescence


The photoluminescence (PL) of semiconductors can be used to determine their absorption coefficient (α) using Planck's generalized law. The standard method, suitable only for self-supported thick samples, like wafers, is extended to multilayer thin films by means of the transfer-matrix method to include the effect of the substrate and optional front layers. α values measured on various thin-film solar-cell absorbers by both PL and photothermal deflection spectroscopy (PDS) show good agreement. PL measurements are extremely sensitive to the semiconductor absorption and allow us to advantageously circumvent parasitic absorption from the substrate; thus, α can be accurately determined down to very low values, allowing us to investigate deep band tails with a higher dynamic range than in any other method, including spectrophotometry and PDS.

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