European researchers have developed a simple thermodynamic method to predict whether a substance can resist the high temperatures normally involved in the production of thin films for photovoltaic devices. The new approach could help scientists in their search for better energy materials.
Jonathan Scragg of Uppsala University, Sweden, and his colleagues of the University of Bath, UK, and the University of Luxembourg present their results in ChemPhysChem.
"There are many things to consider when looking for the ideal material in a solar cell", Scragg says. "It must be very effective in converting light into electricity, should not contain any rare, expensive or dangerous raw materials, and must be easy to manufacture with high quality".
However, most of the existing non-silicon inorganic thin-film solar cell technologies are based on either toxic substances, such as cadmium telluride (CdTe), or relatively rare substances, such as copper indium gallium selenide (CIGSe). Many researchers worldwide are therefore searching for alternative materials to overcome these limitations.
"We are faced with a huge problem", Scragg says. "Nature has provided such a large number of different materials that it is impossible to test every single one. We describe a method that can vastly simplify this problem".
During the manufacturing process, solar cell materials must be heated to high temperatures—in a step called annealing—so that they can crystallize with the required quality. However, many materials cannot tolerate these high temperatures without breaking down, which makes them fundamentally unsuitable. Scragg and co-workers have now found a way to determine beforehand whether a substance will be able to resist the high temperatures encountered in the manufacturing process or not.
They predicted the reactions taking place during the thermal treatment of layers of several multinary semiconductor compounds on different substrates and demonstrated that the annealing conditions can be controlled to maximize the stability and quality of the materials.
The scientists studied different substances, such as CIGSe, copper zinc tin selenide (CZTSe), and other less-known ternary and quaternary semiconductors. Scragg believes that the new approach will be of great help in the search for better absorber materials:
"There are many alternative materials out there, some of which are very promising and some of which may never meet the demands of the solar cell. Few of these alternatives ever receive the time and resources required to develop them to a high enough level. Instead of focusing on one single material, we take a broader approach, providing a method to determine which materials are potentially useful, and which have fundamental limitations", he says.Author: Jonathan Scragg, Uppsala University (Sweden), mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
ChemPhysChem, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cphc.201200067
Jonathan Scragg | Wiley-VCH
Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University
Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017
25.04.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
25.04.2017 | Life Sciences