skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Novel wide band gap materials for highly efficient thin film tandem solar cells. Final report

Abstract

Tandem solar cells (TSCs), which use two or more materials to absorb sunlight, have achieved power conversion efficiencies of >25% versus 11-20% for commercialized single junction solar cell modules. The key to widespread commercialization of TSCs is to develop the wide-band, top solar cell that is both cheap to fabricate and has a high open-circuit voltage (i.e. >1V). Previous work in TSCs has generally focused on using expensive processing techniques with slow growth rates resulting in costs that are two orders of magnitude too expensive to be used in conventional solar cell modules. The objective of the PLANT PV proposal was to investigate the feasibility of using Ag(In,Ga)Se 2 (AIGS) as the wide-bandgap absorber in the top cell of a thin film tandem solar cell (TSC). Despite being studied by very few in the solar community, AIGS solar cells have achieved one of the highest open-circuit voltages within the chalcogenide material family with a Voc of 949 mV when grown with an expensive processing technique (i.e. Molecular Beam Epitaxy). PLANT PV's goal in Phase I of the DOE SBIR was to (1) develop the chemistry to grow AIGS thin films via solution processing techniques to reduce costs and (2) fabricatemore » new device architectures with high open-circuit voltage to produce full tandem solar cells in Phase II. PLANT PV attempted to translate solution processing chemistries that were successful in producing >12% efficient Cu(In,Ga)Se 2 solar cells by replacing copper compounds with silver. The main thrust of the research was to determine if it was possible to make high quality AIGS thin films using solution processing and to fully characterize the materials properties. PLANT PV developed several different types of silver compounds in an attempt to fabricate high quality thin films from solution. We found that silver compounds that were similar to the copper based system did not result in high quality thin films. PLANT PV was able to deposit AIGS thin films using a mixture of solution and physical vapor deposition processing, but these films lacked the p-type doping levels that are required to make decent solar cells. Over the course of the project PLANT PV was able to fabricate efficient CIGS solar cells (8.7%) but could not achieve equivalent performance using AIGS. During the nine-month grant PLANT PV set up a variety of thin film characterization tools (e.g. drive-level capacitance profiling) at the Molecular Foundry, a Department of Energy User Facility, that are now available to both industrial and academic researchers via the grant process. PLANT PV was also able to develop the back end processing of thin film solar cells at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs to achieve 8.7% efficient CIGS solar cells. This processing development will be applied to other types of thin film PV cells at the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. While PLANT PV was able to study AIGS film growth and optoelectronic properties we concluded that AIGS produced using these methods would have a limited efficiency and would not be commercially feasible. PLANT PV did not apply for the Phase II of this grant.« less

Authors:
; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
PLANT PV, Inc., Almeda, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1042702
Report Number(s):
DOE-0006350
DE-FOA-0000413
DOE Contract Number:  
SC0006350
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
14 SOLAR ENERGY; Solar energy, photovoltaics, tandem, multifunction, wide band gap

Citation Formats

Brian E. Hardin, Connor, Stephen T., and Peters, Craig H. Novel wide band gap materials for highly efficient thin film tandem solar cells. Final report. United States: N. p., 2012. Web. doi:10.2172/1042702.
Brian E. Hardin, Connor, Stephen T., & Peters, Craig H. Novel wide band gap materials for highly efficient thin film tandem solar cells. Final report. United States. doi:10.2172/1042702.
Brian E. Hardin, Connor, Stephen T., and Peters, Craig H. Mon . "Novel wide band gap materials for highly efficient thin film tandem solar cells. Final report". United States. doi:10.2172/1042702. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1042702.
@article{osti_1042702,
title = {Novel wide band gap materials for highly efficient thin film tandem solar cells. Final report},
author = {Brian E. Hardin and Connor, Stephen T. and Peters, Craig H.},
abstractNote = {Tandem solar cells (TSCs), which use two or more materials to absorb sunlight, have achieved power conversion efficiencies of >25% versus 11-20% for commercialized single junction solar cell modules. The key to widespread commercialization of TSCs is to develop the wide-band, top solar cell that is both cheap to fabricate and has a high open-circuit voltage (i.e. >1V). Previous work in TSCs has generally focused on using expensive processing techniques with slow growth rates resulting in costs that are two orders of magnitude too expensive to be used in conventional solar cell modules. The objective of the PLANT PV proposal was to investigate the feasibility of using Ag(In,Ga)Se2 (AIGS) as the wide-bandgap absorber in the top cell of a thin film tandem solar cell (TSC). Despite being studied by very few in the solar community, AIGS solar cells have achieved one of the highest open-circuit voltages within the chalcogenide material family with a Voc of 949 mV when grown with an expensive processing technique (i.e. Molecular Beam Epitaxy). PLANT PV's goal in Phase I of the DOE SBIR was to (1) develop the chemistry to grow AIGS thin films via solution processing techniques to reduce costs and (2) fabricate new device architectures with high open-circuit voltage to produce full tandem solar cells in Phase II. PLANT PV attempted to translate solution processing chemistries that were successful in producing >12% efficient Cu(In,Ga)Se2 solar cells by replacing copper compounds with silver. The main thrust of the research was to determine if it was possible to make high quality AIGS thin films using solution processing and to fully characterize the materials properties. PLANT PV developed several different types of silver compounds in an attempt to fabricate high quality thin films from solution. We found that silver compounds that were similar to the copper based system did not result in high quality thin films. PLANT PV was able to deposit AIGS thin films using a mixture of solution and physical vapor deposition processing, but these films lacked the p-type doping levels that are required to make decent solar cells. Over the course of the project PLANT PV was able to fabricate efficient CIGS solar cells (8.7%) but could not achieve equivalent performance using AIGS. During the nine-month grant PLANT PV set up a variety of thin film characterization tools (e.g. drive-level capacitance profiling) at the Molecular Foundry, a Department of Energy User Facility, that are now available to both industrial and academic researchers via the grant process. PLANT PV was also able to develop the back end processing of thin film solar cells at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs to achieve 8.7% efficient CIGS solar cells. This processing development will be applied to other types of thin film PV cells at the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. While PLANT PV was able to study AIGS film growth and optoelectronic properties we concluded that AIGS produced using these methods would have a limited efficiency and would not be commercially feasible. PLANT PV did not apply for the Phase II of this grant.},
doi = {10.2172/1042702},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2012},
month = {6}
}