Doping and Passivation for High Efficiency Thin-Film Solar Cells
At A Glance
Researchers at Colorado State University have developed a method using passivation, passivating oxides, and doping to increase efficiency of CdTe-based thin film solar cells. Incorporation of the method has demonstrated CdTe based thin-film solar cells with efficiency over 21% – the highest efficiency of any such solar cell.
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Sustainable energy resources have presented many opportunities and challenges in modern society. One source of sustainable energy can be found in solar cells, which can produce electricity when exposed to light based on the components within the cell. Thin-film solar cells are a second-generation form of the solar cell which can be made by depositing one or more thin layers on a substrate. Thin-film solar cells can significantly reduce the cost of energy when compared to coal, nuclear, gas, and diesel energy sources. However, while thin-film solar cells require only a fraction of the semiconductor materials required by their predecessors, thin-film solar cells tend to be less efficient than the conventional, first-generation solar cells.
Various improvements have been made to thin-film solar cells over the past several decades. Specifically, efficiency of thin-film solar cells has increased from ~16% to ~18% in just two years (2014 to 2016). Today, commercially available solar cells generate energy at ~18% efficiency with ~28 mA/cm2 short-circuit current and 850 mV open-circuit voltage.
- Can improve efficiency to over 21% with open-circuit voltage of over 1V
- Substantial reduction in manufacturing cost
- Substantial reduction in installation and balance of system cost
- Materials are stable over long use in presence of high operating temperature and humidity
- Solar cell industry
- Off-grid energy generation for land development and agriculture
- Disaster relief operations
- Military application (as efficiency increases, weigh and are required for energy generation decreases)
Kephart, Jason M., et al. “Sputter-Deposited Oxides for Interface Passivation of CdTe Photovoltaics.” IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics, IEEE, 18 Jan. 2018, www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1422874.
A. H. Munshi et al., “Polycrystalline CdSeTe/CdTe Absorber Cells With 28 mA/cm2 Short-Circuit Current,” in IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 310-314, Jan. 2018, doi: 10.1109/JPHOTOV.2017.2775139.
Last updated: October 2020