Earth‐abundant and air‐stable Cu2BaSnS4−
The large open‐circuit voltage deficit (
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Advanced Functional Materials
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Earth‐abundant and air‐stable Cu2BaSnS4−
xSe x(CBTSSe) and related thin‐film absorbers are regarded as prospective options to meet the increasing demand for low‐cost solar cell deployment. Devices based on vacuum‐deposited CBTSSe absorbers have achieved record power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 5.2% based on a conventional device structure using CdS buffer and i‐ZnO/indium tin oxide (ITO) window layers, with open‐circuit voltage ( VOC) posing the major bottleneck for improving solar cell performance. The current study demonstrates a >20% improvement in VOC(from 0.62 to 0.75 V) and corresponding enhancement in PCE (from 5.1% to 6.2% without antireflection coating; to 6.5% with MgF2antireflection coating) for solution‐deposited CBTSSe solar cells. This performance improvement is realized by introducing an alternative successive ionic layer adsorption and reaction‐deposited Zn1− xCd xS buffer combined with sputtered Zn1− xMg xO/Al‐doped ZnO window/top contact layer, which offers lower electron affinities relative to the conventional CdS/i‐ZnO/ITO stack and better matching with the low electron affinity of CBTSSe. A combined experimental (temperature‐ and light intensity‐dependent VOCmeasurements) and device simulation (SCAPS‐1D) evaluation points to the importance of addressing relative band offsets for both the buffer and window layers relative to the absorber in mitigating interfacial recombination and optimizing CBTSSe solar cell performance.
xSn xSe4(CBGTSe) has recently gained interest as a potential photovoltaic absorber to target mitigation of antisite defect formation in Cu2ZnSn(S,Se)4. This study examines partial substitution of Cu by Ag as a potential approach to tune the properties of Ag‐incorporated CBGTSe in the following aspects: 1) phase stability and crystal structure as a function of Ag content; 2) film morphology and grain structure; 3) charge carrier properties; 4) band positions; and 5) charge carrier kinetics and recombination. Up to 20% of Cu can be substituted by Ag in CBGTSe, while above 20% a phase mixture appears. Increasing Ag content induces larger average grain size and reduced hole carrier densities. In contrast, photoelectron spectroscopy and photoluminescence measurements reveal negligible impact of Ag substitution on ionization potential (≈5.4 eV) and electron affinity (≈3.7 eV). Also, Ag content offers negligible impact on carrier lifetimes (few ns). Consistent with these fundamental properties, solar cells based on two different Ag/(Ag + Cu) ratios (≈0% and ≈20%) show comparable power conversion efficiencies (≈2.7–2.8%). These results indicate that CBGTSe films and solar cells may be less sensitive to Ag substitution compared to Cu2ZnSn(S,Se)4, at least at the current level of absorber and device optimization.
Bandgap gradient is a proven approach for improving the open-circuit voltages (VOCs) in Cu(In,Ga)Se2and Cu(Zn,Sn)Se2thin-film solar cells, but has not been realized in Cd(Se,Te) thin-film solar cells, a leading thin-film solar cell technology in the photovoltaic market. Here, we demonstrate the realization of a bandgap gradient in Cd(Se,Te) thin-film solar cells by introducing a Cd(O,S,Se,Te) region with the same crystal structure of the absorber near the front junction. The formation of such a region is enabled by incorporating oxygenated CdS and CdSe layers. We show that the introduction of the bandgap gradient reduces the hole density in the front junction region and introduces a small spike in the band alignment between this and the absorber regions, effectively suppressing the nonradiative recombination therein and leading to improved VOCs in Cd(Se,Te) solar cells using commercial SnO2buffers. A champion device achieves an efficiency of 20.03% with a VOCof 0.863 V.
In recent years, Cu2ZnSn(S,Se)4(CZTSSe) materials have enabled important progress in associated thin‐film photovoltaic (PV) technology, while avoiding scarce and/or toxic metals; however, cationic disorder and associated band tailing fundamentally limit device performance. Cu2BaSnS4(CBTS) has recently been proposed as a prospective alternative large bandgap (~2 eV), environmentally friendly PV material, with ~2% power conversion efficiency (PCE) already demonstrated in corresponding devices. In this study, a two‐step process (i.e., precursor sputter deposition followed by successive sulfurization/selenization) yields high‐quality nominally pinhole‐free films with large (>1 µm) grains of selenium‐incorporated (
x= 3) Cu2BaSnS4− xSe x(CBTSSe) for high‐efficiency PV devices. By incorporating Se in the sulfide film, absorber layers with 1.55 eV bandgap, ideal for single‐junction PV, have been achieved within the CBTSSe trigonal structural family. The abrupt transition in quantum efficiency data for wavelengths above the absorption edge, coupled with a strong sharp photoluminescence feature, confirms the relative absence of band tailing in CBTSSe compared to CZTSSe. For the first time, by combining bandgap tuning with an air‐annealing step, a CBTSSe‐based PV device with 5.2% PCE (total area 0.425 cm2) is reported, >2.5× better than the previous champion pure sulfide device. These results suggest substantial promise for the emerging Se‐rich Cu2BaSnS4– xSe xfamily for high‐efficiency and earth‐abundant PV.
Large-scale deployment of photovoltaic modules is required to power our renewable energy future. Kesterite, Cu2ZnSn(S, Se)4, is a p-type semiconductor absorber layer with a tunable bandgap consisting of earth abundant elements, and is seen as a potential ‘drop-in’ replacement to Cu(In,Ga)Se2in thin film solar cells. Currently, the record light-to-electrical power conversion efficiency (PCE) of kesterite-based devices is 12.6%, for which the absorber layer has been solution-processed. This efficiency must be increased if kesterite technology is to help power the future. Therefore two questions arise: what is the best way to synthesize the film? And how to improve the device efficiency? Here, we focus on the first question from a solution-based synthesis perspective. The main strategy is to mix all the elements together initially and coat them on a surface, followed by annealing in a reactive chalcogen atmosphere to react, grow grains and sinter the film. The main difference between the methods presented here is how easily the solvent, ligands, and anions are removed. Impurities impair the ability to achieve high performance (>∼10% PCE) in kesterite devices. Hydrazine routes offer the least impurities, but have environmental and safety concerns associated with hydrazine. Aprotic and protic based molecular inks are environmentally friendlier and less toxic, but they require the removal of organic and halogen species associated with the solvent and precursors, which is challenging but possible. Nanoparticle routes consisting of kesterite (or binary chalcogenides) particles require the removal of stabilizing ligands from their surfaces. Electrodeposited layers contain few impurities but are sometimes difficult to make compositionally uniform over large areas, and for metal deposited layers, they have to go through several solid-state reaction steps to form kesterite. Hence, each method has distinct advantages and disadvantages. We review the state-of-the art of each and provide perspective on the different strategies.