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Concept: Thin film solar cell


The wings of the black butterfly, Pachliopta aristolochiae, are covered by micro- and nanostructured scales that harvest sunlight over a wide spectral and angular range. Considering that these properties are particularly attractive for photovoltaic applications, we analyze the contribution of these micro- and nanostructures, focusing on the structural disorder observed in the wing scales. In addition to microspectroscopy experiments, we conduct three-dimensional optical simulations of the exact scale structure. On the basis of these results, we design nanostructured thin photovoltaic absorbers of disordered nanoholes, which combine efficient light in-coupling and light-trapping properties together with a high angular robustness. Finally, inspired by the phase separation mechanism of self-assembled biophotonic nanostructures, we fabricate these bioinspired absorbers using a scalable, self-assembly patterning technique based on the phase separation of binary polymer mixture. The nanopatterned absorbers achieve a relative integrated absorption increase of 90% at a normal incident angle of light to as high as 200% at large incident angles, demonstrating the potential of black butterfly structures for light-harvesting purposes in thin-film solar cells.

Concepts: Dye-sensitized solar cell, Light, Refraction, Structure, Angle, Thin film solar cell, Photovoltaics, Solar cell


Fabrication of thin-film solar cells (TFSCs) on substrates other than Si and glass has been challenging because these nonconventional substrates are not suitable for the current TFSC fabrication processes due to poor surface flatness and low tolerance to high temperature and chemical processing. Here, we report a new peel-and-stick process that circumvents these fabrication challenges by peeling off the fully fabricated TFSCs from the original Si wafer and attaching TFSCs to virtually any substrates regardless of materials, flatness and rigidness. With the peel-and-stick process, we integrated hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) TFSCs on paper, plastics, cell phone and building windows while maintaining the original 7.5% efficiency. The new peel-and-stick process enables further reduction of the cost and weight for TFSCs and endows TFSCs with flexibility and attachability for broader application areas. We believe that the peel-and-stick process can be applied to thin film electronics as well.

Concepts: Silicon, Dye-sensitized solar cell, Photovoltaics, Semiconductor, Crystalline silicon, Amorphous silicon, Thin film solar cell, Solar cell


We demonstrate four- and two-terminal perovskite-perovskite tandem solar cells with ideally matched band gaps. We develop an infrared-absorbing 1.2-electron volt band-gap perovskite, FA0.75Cs0.25Sn0.5Pb0.5I3, that can deliver 14.8% efficiency. By combining this material with a wider-band gap FA0.83Cs0.17Pb(I0.5Br0.5)3 material, we achieve monolithic two-terminal tandem efficiencies of 17.0% with >1.65-volt open-circuit voltage. We also make mechanically stacked four-terminal tandem cells and obtain 20.3% efficiency. Notably, we find that our infrared-absorbing perovskite cells exhibit excellent thermal and atmospheric stability, not previously achieved for Sn-based perovskites. This device architecture and materials set will enable “all-perovskite” thin-film solar cells to reach the highest efficiencies in the long term at the lowest costs.

Concepts: Direct current, Photovoltaic array, Anwell Technologies Limited, Dye-sensitized solar cell, Band gap, Photovoltaics, Thin film solar cell, Solar cell


Zinc zirconate (ZnZrO(3)) (ZZ), zinc oxide (ZnO) (ZO) and zirconium oxide (ZrO(2)) (ZRO) nano-particles were synthesized by simple sol-gel method. ZZ, ZO and ZRO nano-particles were characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and UV-Vis diffuse reflectance spectrum (DRS). Nanoporous ZZ, ZO and ZRO thin films were prepared doctor blade technique on the fluorine-doped tin oxide (FTO) and used as working electrodes in dye sensitized solar cells (DSSC). Their photovoltaic behavior were compared with standard using D35 dye and an electrolyte containing [Co(bpy)(3)](PF(6))(2), [Co(pby)(3)](PF(6))(3), LiClO(4), and 4-tert-butylpyridine (TBP). The properties of DSSC have been studied by measuring their short-circuit photocurrent density (Jsc), open-circuit voltage (VOC) and fill factor (ff). The application of ZnZrO(3) as working electrode produces a significant improvement in the fill factor (ff) of the dye-sensitized solar cells (ff=56%) compared to ZnO working electrode (ff=40%) under the same condition.

Concepts: Band gap, Thin film solar cell, Indium tin oxide, Zinc oxide, Photovoltaics, Dye-sensitized solar cell, Solar cell, Titanium dioxide


Nanoclay minerals play a promising role as additives in the liquid electrolyte to form a gel electrolyte for quasi-solid-state dye-sensitized solar cells because of their high chemical stability, unique swelling ability, ion exchange capacity and rheological properties. Here we report the improved performance of a quasi-solid-state gel electrolyte comprising a liquid electrolyte and synthetic nitrate-hydrotalcite nanoclay. Charge transport mechanism in the gel electrolyte, and nanoclay interactions with TiO2/electrolyte interface are discussed in detail. The electrochemical analysis reveals that the charge transport is solely based on physical diffusion. The calculated physical diffusion coefficient shows that the diffusion of redox ions is not much affected by the viscosity of nanoclay gel. The addition of nitrate-hydrotalcite clay in electrolyte has the effect of buffering the protonation process at TiO2/electrolyte interface, resulting in conduction band up-shift and a boost in Voc. Higher Voc with undiminished photocurrent is achieved with nitrate-hydrotalcite nanoclay gel electrolyte for organic as well as for inorganic dye (D35 and N719) systems. 10 % improvement in the efficiency for hydrotalcite clay gel electrolyte is obtained, compared to that of the liquid electrolyte. The power conversion efficiency can be achieved as high as 10.1% under 0.25 sun and 9.6% under full sun. This study demonstrates that nitrate-hydrotalcite nanoclay in the electrolyte not only solidifies the liquid electrolyte to prevent solvent leakage, but also facilitates the improvement in cell efficiency.  

Concepts: Energy conversion efficiency, Electrochemistry, Thin film solar cell, Physical chemistry, Dye-sensitized solar cell, Energy conversion, Titanium dioxide, Solar cell


The tungsten sulfide/multi-wall carbon nanotube (WS2/MWCNT) hybrid was prepared in the presence of glucose by in suit hydrothermal route. The hybrid materials was used as counter electrode in dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC). The results of cyclic voltammetry measurement and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy indicated that the glucose aided prepared (G-A) WS2/MWCNT electrode had low charge-transfer resistance (Rct) and high electrocatalytic activity for triiodide reduction. The excellent electrochemical properties for (G-A) WS2/MWCNT electrode is due to the synergistic effects of WS2 and MWCNTs, as well as amorphous carbon introduced by glucose. The DSSC based on the G-A WS2/MWCNT counter electrode achieved a high power conversion efficiency of 7.36%, which is comparable with the performance of the DSSC using Pt counter electrode (7.54%).

Concepts: Titanium dioxide, Energy conversion efficiency, Thin film solar cell, Dye-sensitized solar cell, Energy conversion, Carbon, Solar cell, Electrochemistry


As the thin film photovoltaic sector continues to expand, there is an emerging need to base these technologies on abundant, low cost materials in place of the expensive, rare, or toxic elements such as Te, In, or Cd that currently constitute the industry standards. To this end, the geometric and electronic structure of four materials comprising low cost, earth abundant elements (Cu3SbS3, Cu3SbSe3, Cu3BiS3, and Cu3BiSe3) are investigated with the screened hybrid exchange-correlation functional HSE06 and their candidacy for use as absorber materials assessed. The materials are shown to exhibit low VBM effective masses, due partially to the presence of lone pairs that originate from the Sb and Bi states. Although all four materials possess indirect fundamental band gaps, calculated optical absorbance shows direct transitions close in energy. Optical band gaps within the visible-light spectrum are also predicted for three of the systems, (Cu3SbSe3, Cu3BiS3 and Cu3BiSe3) making them promising candidates for PV applications.

Concepts: Candidate, Cost, Cadmium, Scientific method, Thin film solar cell, Band gap, Photovoltaics, Solar cell


Two new D-π-A sensitizers ( and ) incorporating 5H-[1,2,5]thiadiazolo [3,4-f]isoindole-5,7(6H)-dione and 6H-pyrrolo[3,4-g]quinoxaline-6,8(7H)-dione core structures were synthesized and tested in liquid dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs). achieved a promising power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 6.2% (AM 1.5, 100 mW cm(-2)).

Concepts: IBM, Conversion of units, Titanium dioxide, Thin film solar cell, Dye-sensitized solar cell, Energy conversion efficiency, Energy conversion, Solar cell


Here we report on a novel polymer electrolyte membrane for quasi-solid dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) with excellent efficiency and extended durability. The electrolyte is prepared by an elegant, rapid and cheap UV-induced polymerization method and the chemometric approach is used for the first time, to the best of our knowledge, for the optimization and the fine tuning of the experimental conditions.

Concepts: Greatest hits albums, Polymers, Titanium dioxide, Thin film solar cell, Dye-sensitized solar cell, Proton conductor, Electrochemistry, Solar cell


A high power conversion efficiency of 10.24% can be obtained in a dye-sensitized solar cell by incorporating multiwall carbon nanotubes inside a TiO(2) nanorod photoanode. The multiwall carbon nanotubes in the nanorod can effectively collect and transport photogenerated electrons reducing the recombination as well as improving efficiency of the device.

Concepts: DNA, Titanium dioxide, Photoelectric effect, Energy conversion efficiency, Thin film solar cell, Dye-sensitized solar cell, Energy conversion, Solar cell