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Special Issue "Photovoltaic Materials and Electronic Devices"

A special issue of Materials (ISSN 1996-1944). This special issue belongs to the section "Structure Analysis and Characterization".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2015)

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Joshua M. Pearce

Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Lab, Department of Materials Science & Engineering and Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: 3-D printing; applied sustainability; renewable energy; solar photovoltaic materials; devices and systems; energy policy; recycling for distributed manufacturing; open source hardware

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Given the state-of-the-art in solar photovoltaic (PV) technology and favorable financing terms, it is clear that PV has already obtained grid parity in specific locations [1]. Advances in the next generation of photovoltaic materials and photovoltaic devices can further reduce costs to enable all of humanity to utilize sustainable and renewable solar power [2]. This Special Issue of Materials will cover such materials, including modeling, synthesis, and evaluation of new materials and their solar cells.

Specifically, this Special Issue will focus on five material technologies for advanced solar cells:

1. New Concepts in PV Materials: Nanostructured materials, low-dimensional physics, multiple charge generation, up/down converters, thermophotovoltaics, low-cost III-V materials, bandgap engineering, hot-carrier effects, plasmonics, metamorphic materials, perovskite and related novel PV materials, novel light trapping, rectennas, quantum dots, carbon nanotubes, and graphene composites.

2. Organic PV Materials: Polymer, hybrid and dye sensitized solar cells, high performance contacts, and lifetime degradation and mechanisms.

3. Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSCs) Materials: Recent developments in dyes, working electrodes, technologies for device fabrications, and advances in new electrolytes.

4. Amorphous, Nanostructured, and Thin Film Silicon PV Materials: Microstructure characterization, light induced degradation (SWE), large area and high deposition rates, novel processing routes, light trapping, multi-layers, and multi-junction devices.

5. Passive Materials for all PV: Transparent conductive oxides (TCOs), encapsulation, connections, optics, glass, anti-reflection coatings (ARCs), alternative buffer layer materials, and contacts.



[1] Branker, K.; Pathak, M.J.M.; Pearce, J.M. A Review of Solar Photovoltaic Levelized Cost of Electricity. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 2011, 15, 4470–4482.

[2] Pearce, J. Photovoltaics—A Path to Sustainable Futures. Futures 2002, 34(7), 663–674.

Dr. Joshua M. Pearce
Guest Editor


Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Materials is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Solar Energy Materials;
  • Photovoltaic Materials;
  • Thin Film Photovoltaic;
  • Organic Photovoltaic Materials;
  • Dye-sensitized Solar Cells (DSSCs) Materials;
  • Amorphous Silicon;
  • Transparent Conductive Oxides;
  • Anti-Reflection Coatings;
  • Nanostructured Materials;
  • Plasmonics;
  • Perovskite

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle Integrated Effects of Two Additives on the Enhanced Performance of PTB7:PC71BM Polymer Solar Cells
Materials 2016, 9(3), 171; doi:10.3390/ma9030171
Received: 19 January 2016 / Revised: 20 February 2016 / Accepted: 24 February 2016 / Published: 5 March 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1984 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Organic photovoltaics (OPVs) are fabricated with blended active layers of poly [[4,8-bis[(2-ethylhexyl)oxy]benzo[1,2-b:4,5-b']dithiophene-2,6-diyl][3-fluoro-2-[(2-ethylhexyl)carbonyl] thieno[3,4-b]thiophenediyl]]: [6,6]-phenylC71-butyric acid methyl ester (PTB7:PC71BM). The active layers are prepared in chlorobenzene (CB) added different additives of 1, 8-Diiodooctane (DIO) and polystyrene (PS) with different concentrations by spin
[...] Read more.
Organic photovoltaics (OPVs) are fabricated with blended active layers of poly [[4,8-bis[(2-ethylhexyl)oxy]benzo[1,2-b:4,5-b']dithiophene-2,6-diyl][3-fluoro-2-[(2-ethylhexyl)carbonyl] thieno[3,4-b]thiophenediyl]]: [6,6]-phenylC71-butyric acid methyl ester (PTB7:PC71BM). The active layers are prepared in chlorobenzene (CB) added different additives of 1, 8-Diiodooctane (DIO) and polystyrene (PS) with different concentrations by spin coating. A small addition, 0.5%–5% by weight relative to the BHJ components, of inert high molecular weight PS is used to increase the solution viscosity and film thickness without sacrificing desirable phase separation and structural order. The effects of the PS are studied with respect of photovoltaic parameters such as fill factor, short circuit current density, and power conversion efficiency. Together with DIO, the device with 3.0 v% DIO and 1 wt % PS shows a high power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 8.92% along with an open-circuit voltage (Voc) of 0.76 V, a short-circuit current (Jsc) of 16.37 mA/cm2, and a fill factor (FF) of 71.68%. The absorption and surface morphology of the active layers are investigated by UV-visible spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy (AFM) respectively. The positive effect of DIO and PS additives on the performance of the OPVs is attributed to the increased absorption and the charge carrier transport and collection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photovoltaic Materials and Electronic Devices) Printed Edition available
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Spectroscopic Ellipsometry Studies of n-i-p Hydrogenated Amorphous Silicon Based Photovoltaic Devices
Materials 2016, 9(3), 128; doi:10.3390/ma9030128
Received: 1 January 2016 / Revised: 12 February 2016 / Accepted: 18 February 2016 / Published: 25 February 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (4159 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Optimization of thin film photovoltaics (PV) relies on characterizing the optoelectronic and structural properties of each layer and correlating these properties with device performance. Growth evolution diagrams have been used to guide production of materials with good optoelectronic properties in the full hydrogenated
[...] Read more.
Optimization of thin film photovoltaics (PV) relies on characterizing the optoelectronic and structural properties of each layer and correlating these properties with device performance. Growth evolution diagrams have been used to guide production of materials with good optoelectronic properties in the full hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) PV device configuration. The nucleation and evolution of crystallites forming from the amorphous phase were studied using in situ near-infrared to ultraviolet spectroscopic ellipsometry during growth of films prepared as a function of hydrogen to reactive gas flow ratio R = [H2]/[SiH4]. In conjunction with higher photon energy measurements, the presence and relative absorption strength of silicon-hydrogen infrared modes were measured by infrared extended ellipsometry measurements to gain insight into chemical bonding. Structural and optical models have been developed for the back reflector (BR) structure consisting of sputtered undoped zinc oxide (ZnO) on top of silver (Ag) coated glass substrates. Characterization of the free-carrier absorption properties in Ag and the ZnO + Ag interface as well as phonon modes in ZnO were also studied by spectroscopic ellipsometry. Measurements ranging from 0.04 to 5 eV were used to extract layer thicknesses, composition, and optical response in the form of complex dielectric function spectra (ε = ε1 + iε2) for Ag, ZnO, the ZnO + Ag interface, and undoped a-Si:H layer in a substrate n-i-p a-Si:H based PV device structure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photovoltaic Materials and Electronic Devices) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle Multi-Material Front Contact for 19% Thin Film Solar Cells
Materials 2016, 9(2), 96; doi:10.3390/ma9020096
Received: 31 December 2015 / Accepted: 29 January 2016 / Published: 6 February 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (4294 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The trade-off between transmittance and conductivity of the front contact material poses a bottleneck for thin film solar panels. Normally, the front contact material is a metal oxide and the optimal cell configuration and panel efficiency were determined for various band gap materials,
[...] Read more.
The trade-off between transmittance and conductivity of the front contact material poses a bottleneck for thin film solar panels. Normally, the front contact material is a metal oxide and the optimal cell configuration and panel efficiency were determined for various band gap materials, representing Cu(In,Ga)Se2 (CIGS), CdTe and high band gap perovskites. Supplementing the metal oxide with a metallic copper grid improves the performance of the front contact and aims to increase the efficiency. Various front contact designs with and without a metallic finger grid were calculated with a variation of the transparent conductive oxide (TCO) sheet resistance, scribing area, cell length, and finger dimensions. In addition, the contact resistance and illumination power were also assessed and the optimal thin film solar panel design was determined. Adding a metallic finger grid on a TCO gives a higher solar cell efficiency and this also enables longer cell lengths. However, contact resistance between the metal and the TCO material can reduce the efficiency benefit somewhat. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photovoltaic Materials and Electronic Devices) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle Heterojunctions of p-BiOI Nanosheets/n-TiO2 Nanofibers: Preparation and Enhanced Visible-Light Photocatalytic Activity
Materials 2016, 9(2), 90; doi:10.3390/ma9020090
Received: 28 December 2015 / Revised: 22 January 2016 / Accepted: 26 January 2016 / Published: 30 January 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (7355 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
p-BiOI nanosheets/n-TiO2 nanofibers (p-BiOI/n-TiO2 NFs) have been facilely prepared via the electrospinning technique combining successive ionic layer adsorption and reaction (SILAR). Dense BiOI nanosheets with good crystalline and width about 500 nm were uniformly assembled on TiO2 nanofibers at room
[...] Read more.
p-BiOI nanosheets/n-TiO2 nanofibers (p-BiOI/n-TiO2 NFs) have been facilely prepared via the electrospinning technique combining successive ionic layer adsorption and reaction (SILAR). Dense BiOI nanosheets with good crystalline and width about 500 nm were uniformly assembled on TiO2 nanofibers at room temperature. The amount of the heterojunctions and the specific surface area were well controlled by adjusting the SILAR cycles. Due to the synergistic effect of p-n heterojunctions and high specific surface area, the obtained p-BiOI/n-TiO2 NFs exhibited enhanced visible-light photocatalytic activity. Moreover, the p-BiOI/n-TiO2 NFs heterojunctions could be easily recycled without decreasing the photocatalytic activity owing to their one-dimensional nanofibrous structure. Based on the above, the heterojunctions of p-BiOI/n-TiO2 NFs may be promising visible-light-driven photocatalysts for converting solar energy to chemical energy in environment remediation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photovoltaic Materials and Electronic Devices) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle Influence of Oxygen Concentration on the Performance of Ultra-Thin RF Magnetron Sputter Deposited Indium Tin Oxide Films as a Top Electrode for Photovoltaic Devices
Materials 2016, 9(1), 63; doi:10.3390/ma9010063
Received: 17 December 2015 / Revised: 6 January 2016 / Accepted: 14 January 2016 / Published: 20 January 2016
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (2572 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The opportunity for substantial efficiency enhancements of thin film hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) solar photovoltaic (PV) cells using plasmonic absorbers requires ultra-thin transparent conducting oxide top electrodes with low resistivity and high transmittances in the visible range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Fabricating ultra-thin
[...] Read more.
The opportunity for substantial efficiency enhancements of thin film hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) solar photovoltaic (PV) cells using plasmonic absorbers requires ultra-thin transparent conducting oxide top electrodes with low resistivity and high transmittances in the visible range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Fabricating ultra-thin indium tin oxide (ITO) films (sub-50 nm) using conventional methods has presented a number of challenges; however, a novel method involving chemical shaving of thicker (greater than 80 nm) RF sputter deposited high-quality ITO films has been demonstrated. This study investigates the effect of oxygen concentration on the etch rates of RF sputter deposited ITO films to provide a detailed understanding of the interaction of all critical experimental parameters to help create even thinner layers to allow for more finely tune plasmonic resonances. ITO films were deposited on silicon substrates with a 98-nm, thermally grown oxide using RF magnetron sputtering with oxygen concentrations of 0, 0.4 and 1.0 sccm and annealed at 300 °C air ambient. Then the films were etched using a combination of water and hydrochloric and nitric acids for 1, 3, 5 and 8 min at room temperature. In-between each etching process cycle, the films were characterized by X-ray diffraction, atomic force microscopy, Raman Spectroscopy, 4-point probe (electrical conductivity), and variable angle spectroscopic ellipsometry. All the films were polycrystalline in nature and highly oriented along the (222) reflection. Ultra-thin ITO films with record low resistivity values (as low as 5.83 × 10−4 Ω·cm) were obtained and high optical transparency is exhibited in the 300–1000 nm wavelength region for all the ITO films. The etch rate, preferred crystal lattice growth plane, d-spacing and lattice distortion were also observed to be highly dependent on the nature of growth environment for RF sputter deposited ITO films. The structural, electrical, and optical properties of the ITO films are discussed with respect to the oxygen ambient nature and etching time in detail to provide guidance for plasmonic enhanced a-Si:H solar PV cell fabrication. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photovoltaic Materials and Electronic Devices) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle Efficiency Enhancement of Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells’ Performance with ZnO Nanorods Grown by Low-Temperature Hydrothermal Reaction
Materials 2015, 8(12), 8860-8867; doi:10.3390/ma8125499
Received: 5 September 2015 / Revised: 9 December 2015 / Accepted: 10 December 2015 / Published: 19 December 2015
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (2377 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this study, aligned zinc oxide (ZnO) nanorods (NRs) with various lengths (1.5–5 µm) were deposited on ZnO:Al (AZO)-coated glass substrates by using a solution phase deposition method; these NRs were prepared for application as working electrodes to increase the photovoltaic conversion efficiency
[...] Read more.
In this study, aligned zinc oxide (ZnO) nanorods (NRs) with various lengths (1.5–5 µm) were deposited on ZnO:Al (AZO)-coated glass substrates by using a solution phase deposition method; these NRs were prepared for application as working electrodes to increase the photovoltaic conversion efficiency of solar cells. The results were observed in detail by using X-ray diffraction, field-emission scanning electron microscopy, UV-visible spectrophotometry, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, incident photo-to-current conversion efficiency, and solar simulation. The results indicated that when the lengths of the ZnO NRs increased, the adsorption of D-719 dyes through the ZnO NRs increased along with enhancing the short-circuit photocurrent and open-circuit voltage of the cell. An optimal power conversion efficiency of 0.64% was obtained in a dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) containing the ZnO NR with a length of 5 µm. The objective of this study was to facilitate the development of a ZnO-based DSSC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photovoltaic Materials and Electronic Devices) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle Enhanced Erbium-Doped Ceria Nanostructure Coating to Improve Solar Cell Performance
Materials 2015, 8(11), 7663-7672; doi:10.3390/ma8115399
Received: 25 September 2015 / Revised: 26 October 2015 / Accepted: 2 November 2015 / Published: 12 November 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (2979 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper discusses the effect of adding reduced erbium-doped ceria nanoparticles (REDC NPs) as a coating on silicon solar cells. Reduced ceria nanoparticles doped with erbium have the advantages of both improving conductivity and optical conversion of solar cells. Oxygen vacancies in ceria
[...] Read more.
This paper discusses the effect of adding reduced erbium-doped ceria nanoparticles (REDC NPs) as a coating on silicon solar cells. Reduced ceria nanoparticles doped with erbium have the advantages of both improving conductivity and optical conversion of solar cells. Oxygen vacancies in ceria nanoparticles reduce Ce4+ to Ce3+ which follow the rule of improving conductivity of solar cells through the hopping mechanism. The existence of Ce3+ helps in the down-conversion from 430 nm excitation to 530 nm emission. The erbium dopant forms energy levels inside the low-phonon ceria host to up-convert the 780 nm excitations into green and red emissions. When coating reduced erbium-doped ceria nanoparticles on the back side of a solar cell, a promising improvement in the solar cell efficiency has been observed from 15% to 16.5% due to the mutual impact of improved electric conductivity and multi-optical conversions. Finally, the impact of the added coater on the electric field distribution inside the solar cell has been studied. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photovoltaic Materials and Electronic Devices) Printed Edition available
Figures

Open AccessArticle Towards InAs/InGaAs/GaAs Quantum Dot Solar Cells Directly Grown on Si Substrate
Materials 2015, 8(7), 4544-4552; doi:10.3390/ma8074544
Received: 18 June 2015 / Revised: 12 July 2015 / Accepted: 14 July 2015 / Published: 22 July 2015
PDF Full-text (796 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper reports on an initial assessment of the direct growth of In(Ga)As/GaAs quantum dots (QDs) solar cells on nanostructured surface Si substrate by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE). The effect of inserting 40 InAs/InGaAs/GaAs QDs layers in the intrinsic region of the heterojunction
[...] Read more.
This paper reports on an initial assessment of the direct growth of In(Ga)As/GaAs quantum dots (QDs) solar cells on nanostructured surface Si substrate by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE). The effect of inserting 40 InAs/InGaAs/GaAs QDs layers in the intrinsic region of the heterojunction pin-GaAs/n+-Si was evaluated using photocurrent spectroscopy in comparison with pin-GaAs/n+-Si and pin-GaAs/GaAs without QDs. The results reveal the clear contribution of the QDs layers to the improvement of the spectral response up to 1200 nm. The novel structure has been studied by X ray diffraction (XRD), photoluminescence spectroscopy (PL) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). These results provide considerable insights into low cost III-V material-based solar cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photovoltaic Materials and Electronic Devices) Printed Edition available

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Terpyridine and Quaterpyridine Complexes as Sensitizers for Photovoltaic Applications
Materials 2016, 9(3), 137; doi:10.3390/ma9030137
Received: 15 January 2016 / Revised: 16 February 2016 / Accepted: 22 February 2016 / Published: 27 February 2016
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (15970 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Terpyridine and quaterpyridine-based complexes allow wide light harvesting of the solar spectrum. Terpyridines, with respect to bipyridines, allow for achieving metal-complexes with lower band gaps in the metal-to-ligand transition (MLCT), thus providing a better absorption at lower energy wavelengths resulting in an enhancement
[...] Read more.
Terpyridine and quaterpyridine-based complexes allow wide light harvesting of the solar spectrum. Terpyridines, with respect to bipyridines, allow for achieving metal-complexes with lower band gaps in the metal-to-ligand transition (MLCT), thus providing a better absorption at lower energy wavelengths resulting in an enhancement of the solar light-harvesting ability. Despite the wider absorption of the first tricarboxylate terpyridyl ligand-based complex, Black Dye (BD), dye-sensitized solar cell (DSC) performances are lower if compared with N719 or other optimized bipyridine-based complexes. To further improve BD performances several modifications have been carried out in recent years affecting each component of the complexes: terpyridines have been replaced by quaterpyridines; other metals were used instead of ruthenium, and thiocyanates have been replaced by different pinchers in order to achieve cyclometalated or heteroleptic complexes. The review provides a summary on design strategies, main synthetic routes, optical and photovoltaic properties of terpyridine and quaterpyridine ligands applied to photovoltaic, and focuses on n-type DSCs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photovoltaic Materials and Electronic Devices) Printed Edition available
Open AccessFeature PaperReview Crystal Structure Formation of CH3NH3PbI3-xClx Perovskite
Materials 2016, 9(3), 123; doi:10.3390/ma9030123
Received: 11 December 2015 / Revised: 8 February 2016 / Accepted: 16 February 2016 / Published: 24 February 2016
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (2867 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Inorganic-organic hydride perovskites bring the hope for fabricating low-cost and large-scale solar cells. At the beginning of the research, two open questions were raised: the hysteresis effect and the role of chloride. The presence of chloride significantly improves the crystallization and charge transfer
[...] Read more.
Inorganic-organic hydride perovskites bring the hope for fabricating low-cost and large-scale solar cells. At the beginning of the research, two open questions were raised: the hysteresis effect and the role of chloride. The presence of chloride significantly improves the crystallization and charge transfer property of the perovskite. However, though the long held debate over of the existence of chloride in the perovskite seems to have now come to a conclusion, no prior work has been carried out focusing on the role of chloride on the electronic performance and the crystallization of the perovskite. Furthermore, current reports on the crystal structure of the perovskite are rather confusing. This article analyzes the role of chloride in CH3NH3PbI3-xClx on the crystal orientation and provides a new explanation about the (110)-oriented growth of CH3NH3PbI3 and CH3NH3PbI3-xClx. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photovoltaic Materials and Electronic Devices) Printed Edition available

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