Concept: Photovoltaic module
With particular focus on bulk heterojunction solar cells incorporating ZnO nanorods, we study how different annealing environments (air or Zn environment) and temperatures impact on the photoluminescence response. Our work gives new insight into the complex defect landscape in ZnO, and it also shows how the different defect types can be manipulated. We have determined the emission wavelengths for the two main defects which make up the visible band, the oxygen vacancy emission wavelength at approximately 530 nm and the zinc vacancy emission wavelength at approximately 630 nm. The precise nature of the defect landscape in the bulk of the nanorods is found to be unimportant to photovoltaic cell performance although the surface structure is more critical. Annealing of the nanorods is optimum at 300[degree sign]C as this is a sufficiently high temperature to decompose Zn(OH)2 formed at the surface of the nanorods during electrodeposition and sufficiently low to prevent ITO degradation.
Man’s harvesting of photovoltaic energy requires the deployment of extensive arrays of solar panels. To improve both the gathering of thermal and photovoltaic energy from the sun we have examined the concept of biomimicry in white butterflies of the family Pieridae. We tested the hypothesis that the V-shaped posture of basking white butterflies mimics the V-trough concentrator which is designed to increase solar input to photovoltaic cells. These solar concentrators improve harvesting efficiency but are both heavy and bulky, severely limiting their deployment. Here, we show that the attachment of butterfly wings to a solar cell increases its output power by 42.3%, proving that the wings are indeed highly reflective. Importantly, and relative to current concentrators, the wings improve the power to weight ratio of the overall structure 17-fold, vastly expanding their potential application. Moreover, a single mono-layer of scale cells removed from the butterflies' wings maintained this high reflectivity showing that a single layer of scale cell-like structures can also form a useful coating. As predicted, the wings increased the temperature of the butterflies' thorax dramatically, showing that the V-shaped basking posture of white butterflies has indeed evolved to increase the temperature of their flight muscles prior to take-off.
The control of charges in a circuit due to an external electric field is ubiquitous to the exchange, storage and manipulation of information in a wide range of applications. Conversely, the ability to grow clean interfaces between materials has been a stepping stone for engineering built-in electric fields largely exploited in modern photovoltaics and opto-electronics. The emergence of atomically thin semiconductors is now enabling new ways to attain electric fields and unveil novel charge transport mechanisms. Here, we report the first direct electrical observation of the inverse charge-funnel effect enabled by deterministic and spatially resolved strain-induced electric fields in a thin sheet of HfS2. We demonstrate that charges driven by these spatially varying electric fields in the channel of a phototransistor lead to a 350% enhancement in the responsivity. These findings could enable the informed design of highly efficient photovoltaic cells.
Despite the impressive photovoltaic performances with power conversion efficiency beyond 22%, perovskite solar cells are poorly stable under operation, failing by far the market requirements. Various technological approaches have been proposed to overcome the instability problem, which, while delivering appreciable incremental improvements, are still far from a market-proof solution. Here we show one-year stable perovskite devices by engineering an ultra-stable 2D/3D (HOOC(CH2)4NH3)2PbI4/CH3NH3PbI3 perovskite junction. The 2D/3D forms an exceptional gradually-organized multi-dimensional interface that yields up to 12.9% efficiency in a carbon-based architecture, and 14.6% in standard mesoporous solar cells. To demonstrate the up-scale potential of our technology, we fabricate 10 × 10 cm(2) solar modules by a fully printable industrial-scale process, delivering 11.2% efficiency stable for >10,000 h with zero loss in performances measured under controlled standard conditions. This innovative stable and low-cost architecture will enable the timely commercialization of perovskite solar cells.
A long-lived hot carrier population is critical in order to develop working hot carrier photovoltaic devices with efficiencies exceeding the Shockley-Queisser limit. Here, we report photoluminescence from hot-carriers with unexpectedly long lifetime (a few ns) in formamidinium tin triiodide. An unusual large blue shift of the time-integrated photoluminescence with increasing excitation power (150 meV at 24 K and 75 meV at 293 K) is displayed. On the basis of the analysis of energy-resolved and time-resolved photoluminescence, we posit that these phenomena are associated with slow hot carrier relaxation and state-filling of band edge states. These observations are both important for our understanding of lead-free hybrid perovskites and for an eventual future development of efficient lead-free perovskite photovoltaics.
Silicon nanowire and nanopore arrays promise to reduce manufacturing costs and increase the power conversion efficiency of photovoltaic devices. So far, however, photovoltaic cells based on nanostructured silicon exhibit lower power conversion efficiencies than conventional cells due to the enhanced photocarrier recombination associated with the nanostructures. Here, we identify and separately measure surface recombination and Auger recombination in wafer-based nanostructured silicon solar cells. By identifying the regimes of junction doping concentration in which each mechanism dominates, we were able to design and fabricate an independently confirmed 18.2%-efficient nanostructured ‘black-silicon’ cell that does not need the antireflection coating layer(s) normally required to reach a comparable performance level. Our results suggest design rules for efficient high-surface-area solar cells with nano- and microstructured semiconductor absorbers.
Since the 1970s, installed solar photovoltaic capacity has grown tremendously to 230 gigawatt worldwide in 2015, with a growth rate between 1975 and 2015 of 45%. This rapid growth has led to concerns regarding the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of photovoltaics production. We present a review of 40 years of photovoltaics development, analysing the development of energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions associated with photovoltaics production. Here we show strong downward trends of environmental impact of photovoltaics production, following the experience curve law. For every doubling of installed photovoltaic capacity, energy use decreases by 13 and 12% and greenhouse gas footprints by 17 and 24%, for poly- and monocrystalline based photovoltaic systems, respectively. As a result, we show a break-even between the cumulative disadvantages and benefits of photovoltaics, for both energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, occurs between 1997 and 2018, depending on photovoltaic performance and model uncertainties.
Growth of semiconducting nanostructures on graphene would open up opportunities for the development of flexible optoelectronic devices, but challenges remain in preserving the structural and electrical properties of graphene during this process. We demonstrate growth of highly uniform and well-aligned ZnO nanowire arrays on graphene by modifying the graphene surface with conductive polymer interlayers. Based on this structure, we then demonstrate graphene cathode-based hybrid solar cells using two different photoactive materials - PbS quantum dots and the conjugated polymer P3HT - with AM 1.5G power conversion efficiencies of 4.2% and 0.5%, respectively, approaching the performance of ITO-based devices with similar architectures. Our method preserves beneficial properties of graphene and demonstrates that it can serve as a viable replacement for ITO in various photovoltaic device configurations.
The fovea centralis is a closely-packed vertical array of inverted-cone photoreceptor cells located in the retina that is responsible for high acuity binocular vision. The cones are operational in well-lit environments and are responsible for trapping the impinging illumination. We present the vertical light-funnel silicon array as a light-trapping technique for photovoltaic applications that is bio-inspired by the properties of the fovea centralis. We use opto-electronic simulations to evaluate the performance of light-funnel solar cell arrays. Light-funnel arrays present ~65% absorption enhancement compared to a silicon film of identical thickness and exhibit power conversion efficiencies that are 60% higher than those of optimized nanowire arrays of the same thickness although nanowire arrays consist of more than 2.3 times the amount of silicon. We demonstrate the superior absorption of the light-funnel arrays as compared with recent advancements in the field. Fabrication of silicon light-funnel arrays using low-cost processing techniques is demonstrated.
In contrast to pristine zinc phthalocyanine (1), zinc phthalocyanine based oPPV-oligomers (2-4) of different chain lengths interact tightly and reversibly with graphite, affording stable and finely dispersed suspensions of mono- to few-layer graphene-nanographene (NG)-that are photoactive. The p-type character of the oPPV backbones and the increasing length of the oPPV backbones facilitate the overall π-π interactions with the graphene layers. In NG/2, NG/3, and NG/4 hybrids, strong electronic coupling between the individual components gives rise to charge transfer from the photoexcited zinc phthalocyanines to NG to form hundreds of picoseconds lived charge transfer states. The resulting features, namely photo- and redoxactivity, serve as incentives to construct and to test novel solar cells. Solar cells made out of NG/4 feature stable and repeatable photocurrent generation during several ‘on-off’ cycles of illumination with monochromatic IPCE values of around 1%.