Alkali-Metal Doped Solar Cells Hold the Key towards Greener Future

  • Analysis
  • 30-October-2020

A discovery by a group of scientists revealed that the quantity of alkali metal inserted into crystals of thin-film solar cells impacts the path taken by charge carriers to cross between electrodes, which in turn affect the efficiency in light-to-electricity conversion of the solar cell. With the increasing application potential of solar cells these days, this research finding holds the key to a green future.

When inexpensive, efficient, eco-friendly, and versatile solar cells are created, all nuclear and thermal power plants will fade away. The solar cells stationed in outer space or over the ocean will run the world, as stated by the co-author of the study hailing from the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in Korea. Along with many such researchers, he carries a highly optimistic vision in the improvement of solar cells.

Over time, the realization occurred to the scientists that the doping process of the polycrystalline solar cells can enhance the efficiency of light to heat conversion and lead to the development of inexpensive thin-film solar cells. With the increasing demand for wearable electronics in society, these solar cells have a wide diversity of applications and usage. However, the reason behind the improvement in performance due to doping is yet to be discovered.

The team revealed one part of the reasons in their latest research paper. The results came from the observations of electric charge transport, composition, and various other properties of CZTSSe cells doped with thick layers of sodium fluoride. By studying these doped cells, the research team observed that the path taken by charge carriers between electrodes is determined by the amount of dopant, which also decides the cell's conductive capacity. The maximum conductivity is obtained at a thickness of 25 nm. The fill factor of the cells gets affected by this, which impacts the efficiency ratio of light to electricity conversion. Around 63% of the fill factor is obtained at 25 nm, which is a record in itself.

The research team has developed eco-friendly and flexible solar cells that prove to be useful in our everyday lives, from building avant-garde electronic devices to solar panel roofs and integrated photovoltaic’s.

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