Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nanomaterials: Solar express

19.08.2011
A one-pot synthesis provides a simpler and faster route to highly efficient solar cells

Preventing the recombination of free charges produced when light strikes a solar cell is one of the main goal of engineers attempting to extract the maximum energy conversion efficiency from their devices. One way to achieve this is by building into the cell a ‘heterojunction’ between positive (p) and negative (n) type semiconductors, which allows the light-induced positive and negative charge to escape the cell by moving in opposite directions at the heterojunction interface. Mingyong Han at the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering and co-workers1 have now discovered a way to produce high-quality nanoscale heterojunctions, setting the stage for cheaper and more efficient photovoltaic devices.

Nanoscale semiconductor crystals provide enhanced surface area for light absorption and are also cheaper to produce than conventional lithography-patterned cell structures. However, it has been extremely difficult to form high-quality heterojunctions between n- and p-type semiconductors in a way that achieves the intimate inter-crystal contact needed to enhance device performance.

Resolving this problem requires a technique that can bind the two semiconductors together chemically. Previous studies have produced binary nanocrystals with a spherical ‘core–shell’ structure. Unfortunately, heterojunction based on these nanocrystals have low energy conversion efficiency because light has difficulty reaching the inner core. Han and his co-workers overcame this problem by adopting a different route for synthesis.

First, the researchers used a blend of surfactants under hot thermal conditions to produce copper(I) sulfide (CuxS), a well-known p-type semiconductor, in distinctively shaped hexagonal disks roughly 40 nanometers wide and 15 nanometers thick. The well-defined facets of these novel materials enabled the researchers to nucleate the crystallization of n-type cadmium sulfide (CdS) onto the outer edges of the crystals.

Next, through a process known as cation exchange, the researchers persuaded the n-type crystals to grow inward, effectively chemically converting a portion of the CuxS disks into CdS. “This method results in nano-heterostructures with the same morphology as the original material,” says Han. By carefully optimizing the reaction conditions, the researchers transformed the hexagonal nanodisk into a perfectly symmetric, side-by-side heterojunction. Zinc metals were also incorporated into the interface to further tweak its electrical performance.

Han notes that the CuxS–CdS heterostructure is promising for solar cell technology because of its dually accessible surface and an energy band alignment that drives strong charge separation. The team also expects to synthesize a wide range of new semiconductor pairs with this one-pot technique, taking advantage of the system’s extraordinary crystallization properties.

The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering

References

Regulacio, M. D. et al. One-pot synthesis of Cu1.94S–CdS and Cu1.94S–ZnxCd1–xS nanodisc heterostructures. Journal of the American Chemical Society 133, 2052–2055 (2011).

Eugene Low | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.imre.a-star.edu.sg/
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Physics, photosynthesis and solar cells
01.12.2016 | University of California - Riverside

nachricht New process produces hydrogen at much lower temperature
01.12.2016 | Waseda University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>