GaN-based light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have been widely accepted as highly efficient solid-state light sources capable of replacing conventional incandescent and fluorescent lamps. However, their applications are limited to small devices because their fabrication process is expensive as it involves epitaxial growth of GaN by metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) on single crystalline sapphire wafers. If a low-cost epitaxial growth process such as sputtering on a metal foil can be used, it will be possible to fabricate large-area and flexible GaN-based light-emitting displays. Here we report preparation of GaN films on nearly lattice-matched flexible Hf foils using pulsed sputtering deposition (PSD) and demonstrate feasibility of fabricating full-color GaN-based LEDs. It was found that introduction of low-temperature (LT) grown layers suppressed the interfacial reaction between GaN and Hf, allowing the growth of high-quality GaN films on Hf foils. We fabricated blue, green, and red LEDs on Hf foils and confirmed their normal operation. The present results indicate that GaN films on Hf foils have potential applications in fabrication of future large-area flexible GaN-based optoelectronics.
Semiconductor heterostructures provide a powerful platform to engineer the dynamics of excitons for fundamental and applied interests. However, the functionality of conventional semiconductor heterostructures is often limited by inefficient charge transfer across interfaces due to the interfacial imperfection caused by lattice mismatch. Here we demonstrate that MoS2/WS2 heterostructures consisting of monolayer MoS2 and WS2 stacked in the vertical direction can enable equally efficient interlayer exciton relaxation regardless the epitaxy and orientation of the stacking. This is manifested by a similar two orders of magnitude decrease of photoluminescence intensity in both epitaxial and non-epitaxial MoS2/WS2 heterostructures. Both heterostructures also show similarly improved absorption beyond the simple super-imposition of the absorptions of monolayer MoS2 and WS2. Our result indicates that 2D heterostructures bear significant implications for the development of photonic devices, in particular those requesting efficient exciton separation and strong light absorption, such as solar cells, photodetectors, modulators, and photocatalysts. It also suggests that the simple stacking of dissimilar 2D materials with random orientations is a viable strategy to fabricate complex functional 2D heterostructures, which would show similar optical functionality as the counterpart with perfect epitaxy.
Hybrid organic/lead halide perovskites are promising materials for solar cell fabrication, resulting in efficiencies up to 18%. The most commonly-studied perovskites are CH3NH3PbI3 and CH3NH3Pb(I3-xClx) where x is small. Importantly, in the latter system, the presence of chloride ion source in the starting solutions used for the perovskite deposition results in a strong increase in the overall charge diffusion length. In this work we investigate the crystallization parameters relevant to fabrication of perovskite materials based on CH3NH3PbI3 and CH3NH3PbBr3. We find that the addition of PbCl2 to the solutions used in the perovskite synthesis has a remarkable effect on the end product, because PbCl2 nanocrystals are present during the fabrication process, acting as heterogeneous nucleation sites for the formation of perovskite crystals in solution. We base this conclusion on SEM studies, synthesis of perovskite single crystals, and on cryo-TEM imaging of the frozen mother liquid. Our studies also included the effect of different substrates and substrate temperatures on the perovskite nucleation efficiency. In view of our findings, we optimized the procedures for solar cells based on lead bromide perovskite, resulting in 5.7% efficiency and Voc of 1.24 V, improving the performance in this class of devices. Insights gained from understanding the hybrid perovskite crystallization process can aid in rational design of the polycrystalline absorber films, leading to their improved performance.
Organometallic halide perovskite solar cells (PSCs) have shown great promise as a low-cost, high-efficiency photovoltaic technology. Structural and electro-optical properties of the perovskite absorber layer are most critical to device operation characteristics. Here we present a facile fabrication of high-efficiency PSCs based on compact, large-grain, pinhole-free CH3NH3PbI3-xBrx (MAPbI3-xBrx) thin films with high reproducibility. A simple methylammonium bromide (MABr) treatment via spin-coating with a proper MABr concentration converts MAPbI3 thin films with different initial film qualities (for example, grain size and pinholes) to high-quality MAPbI3-xBrx thin films following an Ostwald ripening process, which is strongly affected by MABr concentration and is ineffective when replacing MABr with methylammonium iodide. A higher MABr concentration enhances I-Br anion exchange reaction, yielding poorer device performance. This MABr-selective Ostwald ripening process improves cell efficiency but also enhances device stability and thus represents a simple, promising strategy for further improving PSC performance with higher reproducibility and reliability.
Following the first experimental realization of graphene, other ultrathin materials with unprecedented electronic properties have been explored, with particular attention given to the heavy group-IV elements Si, Ge and Sn. Two-dimensional buckled Si-based silicene has been recently realized by molecular beam epitaxy growth, whereas Ge-based germanene was obtained by molecular beam epitaxy and mechanical exfoliation. However, the synthesis of Sn-based stanene has proved challenging so far. Here, we report the successful fabrication of 2D stanene by molecular beam epitaxy, confirmed by atomic and electronic characterization using scanning tunnelling microscopy and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, in combination with first-principles calculations. The synthesis of stanene and its derivatives will stimulate further experimental investigation of their theoretically predicted properties, such as a 2D topological insulating behaviour with a very large bandgap, and the capability to support enhanced thermoelectric performance, topological superconductivity and the near-room-temperature quantum anomalous Hall effect.
State-of-the-art photovoltaics use high-purity, large-area, wafer-scale single-crystalline semiconductors grown by sophisticated, high-temperature crystal growth processes. We demonstrate a solution-based hot-casting technique to grow continuous, pinhole-free thin films of organometallic perovskites with millimeter-scale crystalline grains. We fabricated planar solar cells with efficiencies approaching 18%, with little cell-to-cell variability. The devices show hysteresis-free photovoltaic response, which had been a fundamental bottleneck for the stable operation of perovskite devices. Characterization and modeling attribute the improved performance to reduced bulk defects and improved charge carrier mobility in large-grain devices. We anticipate that this technique will lead the field toward synthesis of wafer-scale crystalline perovskites, necessary for the fabrication of high-efficiency solar cells, and will be applicable to several other material systems plagued by polydispersity, defects, and grain boundary recombination in solution-processed thin films.
Solution-processed semiconductor quantum dot solar cells offer a path towards both reduced fabrication cost and higher efficiency enabled by novel processes such as hot-electron extraction and carrier multiplication. Here we use a new class of low-cost, low-toxicity CuInSexS2-x quantum dots to demonstrate sensitized solar cells with certified efficiencies exceeding 5%. Among other material and device design improvements studied, use of a methanol-based polysulfide electrolyte results in a particularly dramatic enhancement in photocurrent and reduced series resistance. Despite the high vapour pressure of methanol, the solar cells are stable for months under ambient conditions, which is much longer than any previously reported quantum dot sensitized solar cell. This study demonstrates the large potential of CuInSexS2-x quantum dots as active materials for the realization of low-cost, robust and efficient photovoltaics as well as a platform for investigating various advanced concepts derived from the unique physics of the nanoscale size regime.
Epitaxy-the growth of a crystalline material on a substrate-is crucial for the semiconductor industry, but is often limited by the need for lattice matching between the two material systems. This strict requirement is relaxed for van der Waals epitaxy, in which epitaxy on layered or two-dimensional (2D) materials is mediated by weak van der Waals interactions, and which also allows facile layer release from 2D surfaces. It has been thought that 2D materials are the only seed layers for van der Waals epitaxy. However, the substrates below 2D materials may still interact with the layers grown during epitaxy (epilayers), as in the case of the so-called wetting transparency documented for graphene. Here we show that the weak van der Waals potential of graphene cannot completely screen the stronger potential field of many substrates, which enables epitaxial growth to occur despite its presence. We use density functional theory calculations to establish that adatoms will experience remote epitaxial registry with a substrate through a substrate-epilayer gap of up to nine ångströms; this gap can accommodate a monolayer of graphene. We confirm the predictions with homoepitaxial growth of GaAs(001) on GaAs(001) substrates through monolayer graphene, and show that the approach is also applicable to InP and GaP. The grown single-crystalline films are rapidly released from the graphene-coated substrate and perform as well as conventionally prepared films when incorporated in light-emitting devices. This technique enables any type of semiconductor film to be copied from underlying substrates through 2D materials, and then the resultant epilayer to be rapidly released and transferred to a substrate of interest. This process is particularly attractive in the context of non-silicon electronics and photonics, where the ability to re-use the graphene-coated substrates allows savings on the high cost of non-silicon substrates.
Materials providing broadband light antireflection have applications as highly transparent window coatings, military camouflage, and coatings for efficiently coupling light into solar cells and out of light-emitting diodes. In this work, densely packed silicon nanotextures with feature sizes smaller than 50 nm enhance the broadband antireflection compared with that predicted by their geometry alone. A significant fraction of the nanotexture volume comprises a surface layer whose optical properties differ substantially from those of the bulk, providing the key to improved performance. The nanotexture reflectivity is quantitatively well-modelled after accounting for both its profile and changes in refractive index at the surface. We employ block copolymer self-assembly for precise and tunable nanotexture design in the range of ~10-70 nm across macroscopic solar cell areas. Implementing this efficient antireflection approach in crystalline silicon solar cells significantly betters the performance gain compared with an optimized, planar antireflection coating.
Expenses associated with shipping, installation, land, regulatory compliance and on-going maintenance and operations of utility-scale photovoltaics can be significantly reduced by increasing the power conversion efficiency of solar modules through improved materials, device designs and strategies for light management. Single-junction cells have performance constraints defined by their Shockley-Queisser limits. Multi-junction cells can achieve higher efficiencies, but epitaxial and current matching requirements between the single junctions in the devices hinder progress. Mechanical stacking of independent multi-junction cells circumvents these disadvantages. Here we present a fabrication approach for the realization of mechanically assembled multi-junction cells using materials and techniques compatible with large-scale manufacturing. The strategy involves printing-based stacking of microscale solar cells, sol-gel processes for interlayers with advanced optical, electrical and thermal properties, together with unusual packaging techniques, electrical matching networks, and compact ultrahigh-concentration optics. We demonstrate quadruple-junction, four-terminal solar cells with measured efficiencies of 43.9% at concentrations exceeding 1,000 suns, and modules with efficiencies of 36.5%.