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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

First Advisor

Qui Hua Fan


Increasing energy demand and concern over existing non-renewable energy resources has shifted interest towards clean and sustainable energy resources like photovoltaics. High-efficiency and low-cost thin films are a promising alternative to crystalline wafer based solar cells but back reflectors are needed to increase the absorption in these cells. Nano texturing is one of the widely used methods for fabricating solar cell back reflectors. Peak height and angle distribution are key parameters needed to understand the effect of texturing in solar cell back reflectors, and to make stable and low-cost broadband back reflector to enhance the light trapping in thin film solar cell. In this work, a quantitative characterization tool was developed to analyze textured aluminum back reflectors. The tool used Atomic Force Microscopy data to generate peak height and angle distribution. A series of sputtering deposited aluminum thin films at various sputtering conditions were analyzed to understand the effect of each. Surface roughness was minimum for medium power (90 W) and higher at lower power due to oxidation, and at high power (120 W) due to lack of relaxation time. Substrate temperature had the most significant effect on the surface morphology of the aluminum films. The texture height increased drastically when the substrate temperature was increased from 23°C to 127°C, while the peak angle decreased (peak sharpened).

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Solar cells
Reflection (Optics)
Nanostructured materials


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 89-99)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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