Zinc oxysulfide buffer layers with [O]:[S] of 1:0, 6:1, 4:1, 2:1, and 1:1 ratios were deposited by atomic layer deposition on Cu(In,Ga)(S,Se)2 absorbers and made into finished solar cells. We demonstrate using Time-Resolved Photoluminescence that the minority carrier lifetime of Zn(O,S) buffered solar cells is dependent on the sulfur content of the buffer layer. τ1 for devices with [O]:[S] of 1:0–4:1 are <10 ns, indicating efficient charge separation in devices with low sulfur content. An additional τ2 is observed for relaxed devices with [O]:[S] of 2:1 and both relaxed and light soaked devices with [O]:[S] of 1:1. Corroborated with one-dimensional electronic band structure simulation results, we attribute this additional decay lifetime to radiative recombination in the absorber due to excessive acceptor-type defects in sulfur-rich Zn(O,S) buffer layer that causes a buildup in interface-barrier for charge transport. A light soaking step shortens the carrier lifetime for the moderately sulfur-rich 2:1 device when excess acceptors are passivated in the buffer, reducing the crossover in the dark and illuminated I-V curves. However, when a high concentration of excess acceptors exist in the buffer and cannot be passivated by light soaking, as with the sulfur-rich 1:1 device, then cell efficiency of the device will remain low.

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