All-solid-state, semiconductor-sensitized nanoporous solar cells

Gary Hodes, David Cahen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite the rapid increase in solar cell manufacturing capacity (∼50 GW p in 2011), maintaining this continued expansion will require resolving some major fabrication issues. Crystalline Si, the most common type of cell, requires a large energy input in the manufacturing process, which results in an energy payback time of years. CdTe/CdS thin film cells, which have captured around 10% of the global market, may not be sustainable for very large-scale use because of limited Te availability. Thus, research in this field is emphasizing cells that are energy efficient and inexpensive and use readily available materials. The extremely thin absorber (ETA) cell, the subject of this Account, is one of these new generation cells. Since the active light absorber in an ETA cell is no more than tens of nanometers thick, the direct recombination of photogenerated electrons and holes in the absorber should not compete as much with charge removal in the form of photocurrent as in thicker absorber materials. As a result, researchers expect that poorer quality semiconductors can be used in an ETA cell, which would expand the choice of semiconductors over those currently in use.We first describe the ETA cell, comparing and contrasting it to the dye-sensitized cell (DSC) from which it developed and describing its potential advantages and disadvantages. We then explain the mechanism(s) of operation of the ETA cell, which remain controversial: different ETA cells most likely operate by different mechanisms, particularly in their photovoltage generation. We then present a general description of how we prepare ETA cells in our laboratory, emphasizing solution methods to form the various layers and solution treatments of these layers to minimize manufacturing costs. This is followed by a more specific discussion of the various layers and treatments used to make and complete a cell with emphasis on solution treatments that are important in optimizing cell performance and explaining the possible modes of action of each of these treatments. Finally, we show how ETA cells have improved over the years, their present efficiencies, our expectations for the future, and the challenges that we foresee to fulfill these expectations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-713
Number of pages9
JournalAccounts of Chemical Research
Volume45
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 May 2012
Externally publishedYes

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