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
Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH
Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences