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Title: Development of low-cost technology for the next generation of high efficiency solar cells composed of earth abundant elements

The development of renewable, affordable, and environmentally conscious means of generating energy on a global scale represents a grand challenge of our time. Due to the “permanence” of radiation from the sun, solar energy promises to remain a viable and sustainable power source far into the future. Established single-junction photovoltaic technologies achieve high power conversion efficiencies (pce) near 20% but require complicated manufacturing processes that prohibit the marriage of large-scale throughput (e.g. on the GW scale), profitability, and quality control. Our approach to this problem begins with the synthesis of nanocrystals of semiconductor materials comprising earth abundant elements and characterized by material and optoelectronic properties ideal for photovoltaic applications, namely Cu2ZnSn(S,Se)4 (CZTSSe). Once synthesized, such nanocrystals are formulated into an ink, coated onto substrates, and processed into completed solar cells in such a way that enables scale-up to high throughput, roll-to-roll manufacturing processes. This project aimed to address the major limitation to CZTSSe solar cell pce’s – the low open-circuit voltage (Voc) reported throughout literature for devices comprised of this material. Throughout the project significant advancements have been made in fundamental understanding of the CZTSSe material and device limitations associated with this material system. Additionally, notable improvements have been mademore » to our nanocrystal based processing technique to alleviate performance limitations due to the identified device limitations. Notably, (1) significant improvements have been made in reducing intra- and inter-nanoparticle heterogeneity, (2) improvements in device performance have been realized with novel cation substitution in Ge-alloyed CZTGeSSe absorbers, (3) systematic analysis of absorber sintering has been conducted to optimize the selenization process for large grain CZTSSe absorbers, (4) novel electrical characterization analysis techniques have been developed to identify significant limitations to traditional electrical characterization of CZTSSe devices, and (5) the developed electrical analysis techniques have been used to identify the role that band gap and electrostatic potential fluctuations have in limiting device performance for this material system. The device modeling and characterization of CZTSSe undertaken with this project have significant implications for the CZTSSe research community, as the identified limitations due to potential fluctuations are expected to be a performance limitation to high-efficiency CZTSSe devices fabricated from all current processing techniques. Additionally, improvements realized through enhanced absorber processing conditions to minimize nanoparticle and large-grain absorber heterogeneity are suggested to be beneficial processing improvements which should be applied to CZTSSe devices fabricated from all processing techniques. Ultimately, our research has indicated that improved performance for CZTSSe will be achieved through novel absorber processing which minimizes defect formation, elemental losses, secondary phase formation, and compositional uniformity in CZTSSe absorbers; we believe this novel absorber processing can be achieved through nanocrystal based processing of CZTSSe which is an active area of research at the conclusion of this award. While significant fundamental understanding of CZTSSe and the performance limitations associated with this material system, as well as notable improvements in the processing of nanocrystal based CZTSSe absorbers, have been achieved under this project, the limitation of two years of research funding towards our goals prevents further significant advancements directly identified through pce. improvements relative to those reported herein. As the characterization and modeling subtask of this project has been the main driving force for understanding device limitations, the conclusions of this analysis have just recently been applied to the processing of nanocrystal based CZTSSe absorbers -- with notable success. We expect the notable fundamental understanding of device limitations and absorber sintering achieved under this project will lead to significant improvements in device performance for CZTSSe devices in the near future for devices fabricated from a variety of processing techniques« less
Authors:
 [1]
  1. Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
1159224
Report Number(s):
Final Scientific/Technical Report
DOE Contract Number:
EE0005328
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE; USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technologies Program (EE-2A)
Contributing Orgs:
Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin for Materials and Energy, Berlin (Germany); Brookhaven National Lab. (BNL), Upton, NY (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
14 SOLAR ENERGY; 36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; 37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; 42 ENGINEERING; 47 OTHER INSTRUMENTATION; 30 DIRECT ENERGY CONVERSION; 32 ENERGY CONSERVATION, CONSUMPTION, AND UTILIZATION; 77 NANOSCIENCE AND NANOTECHNOLOGY CZTS; CZTSe; Thin Film; Solution Processing; Photovoltaics; Solar Cells; Reactive Sintering; Characterization; Nanoparticles; Selenization; Surface Treatments; Interfaces