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E3.04 - Accelerating Performance Improvements in Earth-Abundant Thin-Film Photovoltaic Devices 
Date/Time:
April 22, 2014   2:30pm - 3:00pm
 
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In light of the dramatic price reduction of crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules and the pressing need to address anthropogenic emissions, there is a renewed emphasis on accelerating efficiency increases in candidate Earth-abundant PV materials. These novel materials may serve as top-cell materials for silicon-based tandems, or as single-layer thin-film absorbers. During the past three years, we have investigated electrochemically deposited cuprous oxide (Cu2O) and PVD/pulsed-CVD-deposited tin sulfide (SnS) for photovoltaic applications. With the benefit of hindsight, we highlight the critical investigations that identified and successfully engineered performance-limiting mechanisms in Cu2O and SnS-based devices, resulting in efficiency improvements from ~1.3% range to ~4.5% and beyond. The parallel evolution of these two material systems suggests certain elements of a common framework to improve the device efficiencies of novel PV materials. Bulk engineering: We discuss efforts to improve bulk collection length, including approaches for bulk carrier-collection length measurements, effects of deposition conditions and post-growth annealing on collected current, bulk impurity assessment, and efforts to simulate point-defect evolution using kinetic models. Surface engineering: We review the effect of interface recombination on Voc, the role and properties of native oxides, and grain-orientation specific properties in polycrystalline materials. Device engineering: Often underappreciated in materials investigations, it is often necessary to resolve baseline device loss mechanisms before "unmasking" more detailed materials science. We review the effects of series and shunt resistance, optical interference, efforts to improve device reproducibility, and the role of advanced device characterization techniques coupled with simulation.
 


 
 
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