Special Issue "Nano-Structured Solar Cells"

A special issue of Energies (ISSN 1996-1073).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2016).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Narottam Das
Website
Guest Editor
School of Engineering and Technology, Higher Education Division, CQUniversity Australia, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia
Interests: nano-structured solar cells; thin film solar cells; photovoltaic (PV) cells; plasmonics solar cells; nanotechnology; semiconductor devices; solar cells and PV systems; renewable energy technology; smart grid systems; IEC 61850 for substation automation system
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

 

Nano-structured solar cells are an exciting and promising approach for photovoltaic energy generation, and it offers variety of choices in terms of the device design, modelling, fabrication, and analysis for the improvement of conversion efficiency. Thin-film technologies have the potential to reduce this cost by eliminating wafer slicing and reducing material consumption by a factor of more than ten. Current progress of the solar or photovoltaic system is causing demand for silicon wafers to outstrip the capacity to supply, creating a market entry opportunity for a number of competing thin-film technologies. The absorber layer can be deposited at the required thickness, greatly reducing wastage provided source material utilisation is good. There are variety of substrates, such as insulators or metals, are used for deposition of different layers using different deposition techniques. This versatility allows tailoring and engineering of the layers in order to improve device performance to improve the conversion efficiency. For large-area devices required for realistic applications, thin-film device fabrication becomes complex and requires proper control over the entire process sequence. Proper understanding of thin-film deposition processes can assist in achieving high conversion efficiency for different cells. Research and development in new, exotic, and simple materials and devices, are innovative, but simple manufacturing processes need to be pursued in a focussed manner. Therefore, we welcome research and review papers (both theoretical and experimental) for the development of high efficiency thin film solar cells and related areas. The Special Issue will encompass:

  • Nano-structured solar cells for high conversion efficiency
  • Design and modeling of plasmonics solar cells
  • Thin film solar cells
  • Solar cells and photovoltaic systems
  • Nanotechnology for improvement of solar cell conversion efficiency
  • Semiconductor devices for the development of thin film solar cells
  • Renewable energy technologies for the development of high effocienvcy solar cells.

We welcome papers on nano-structred solar cells, thin-film solar cells, semiconductor devices, photovoltaic systems, as well as cutting-edge examples or models from industrial practice that can be used to encourage sustainable development and performance of thin film solar cells for the improvement of conversion efficiency.

Dr. Narottam Das, SMIEEE
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • nano-structured solar cells
  • design and modeling of solar cells
  • thin film solar cells
  • development of thin film solar technology
  • materials sturucture and layers for solar cells
  • light trapping in solar cells
  • plasmonic nanostructured for solar cells
  • photovoltaic (PV) systems
  • nanotechnology for the development of solar cells
  • semiconductors for thin film solar cells
  • renewable energy technologies
  • high effocienvcy solar cells

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Optimization of Electrochemically Deposited Highly Doped ZnO Bilayers on Ga-Rich Chalcopyrite Selenide for Cost-Effective Photovoltaic Device Technology
Energies 2016, 9(11), 951; https://doi.org/10.3390/en9110951 - 15 Nov 2016
Cited by 3
Abstract
High quality polycrystalline bilayers of aluminium doped ZnO (Al:ZnO) were successively electrodeposited in the form of columnar structures preferentially oriented along the ( 10 1 ¯ 1 ) crystallographic direction from aqueous solution of zinc nitrate (Zn(NO3)2) at negative [...] Read more.
High quality polycrystalline bilayers of aluminium doped ZnO (Al:ZnO) were successively electrodeposited in the form of columnar structures preferentially oriented along the ( 10 1 ¯ 1 ) crystallographic direction from aqueous solution of zinc nitrate (Zn(NO3)2) at negative electrochemical potential of EC = (−0.8)–(−1.2) V and moderate temperature of 80 °C on gallium rich (30% Ga) chalcopyrite selenide Cu(In,Ga)Se2 (CIGS) with chemically deposited ZnSe buffer (ZnSe/Cu(In,Ga)Se2/Mo/glass). The aluminium doped ZnO layer properties have initially been probed by deposition of Al:ZnO/i-ZnO bilayers directly on Mo/glass substrates. The band-gap energy of the Al:ZnO/i-ZnO reference layers was found to vary from 3.2 to 3.7 eV by varying the AlCl3 solute dopant concentration from 1 to 20 mM. The electrical resistivity of indium-pellet contacted highly doped Al:ZnO sheet of In/Al:ZnO/i-ZnO/Mo/glass reference samples was of the order ρ ~10−5 Ω·cm; the respective carrier concentration of the order 1022 cm−3 is commensurate with that of sputtered Al:ZnO layers. For crystal quality optimization of the bilayers by maintenance of the volatile selenium content of the chalcopyrite, they were subjected to 2-step annealing under successive temperature raise and N2 flux regulation. The hydrostatic compressive strain due to Al3+ incorporation in the ZnO lattice of bilayers processed successively with 5 and 12 mM AlCl3 dopant was εh = −0.046 and the respective stress σh = −20 GPa. The surface reflectivity of maximum 5% over the scanned region of 180–900 nm and the (optical) band gap of Eg = 3.67 eV were indicative of the high optical quality of the electrochemically deposited (ECD) Al:ZnO bilayers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nano-Structured Solar Cells)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Nano-Structured Gratings for Improved Light Absorption Efficiency in Solar Cells
Energies 2016, 9(9), 756; https://doi.org/10.3390/en9090756 - 19 Sep 2016
Cited by 7
Abstract
Due to the rising power demand and substantial interest in acquiring green energy from sunlight, there has been rapid development in the science and technology of photovoltaics (PV) in the last few decades. Furthermore, the synergy of the fields of metrology and fabrication [...] Read more.
Due to the rising power demand and substantial interest in acquiring green energy from sunlight, there has been rapid development in the science and technology of photovoltaics (PV) in the last few decades. Furthermore, the synergy of the fields of metrology and fabrication has paved the way to acquire improved light collecting ability for solar cells. Based on recent studies, the performance of solar cell can improve due to the application of subwavelength nano-structures which results in smaller reflection losses and better light manipulation and/or trapping at subwavelength scale. In this paper, we propose a numerical optimization technique to analyze the reflection losses on an optimized GaAs-based solar cell which is covered with nano-structured features from the same material. Using the finite difference time domain (FDTD) method, we have designed, modelled, and analyzed the performance of three different arrangements of periodic nano-structures with different pitches and heights. The simulated results confirmed that different geometries of nano-structures behave uniquely towards the impinging light. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nano-Structured Solar Cells)
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Open AccessArticle
Design and Analysis of Nano-Structured Gratings for Conversion Efficiency Improvement in GaAs Solar Cells
Energies 2016, 9(9), 690; https://doi.org/10.3390/en9090690 - 29 Aug 2016
Cited by 18
Abstract
This paper presents the design and analysis of nano-structured gratings to improve the conversion efficiency in GaAs solar cells by reducing the light reflection losses. A finite-difference time domain (FDTD) simulation tool is used to design and simulate the light reflection losses of [...] Read more.
This paper presents the design and analysis of nano-structured gratings to improve the conversion efficiency in GaAs solar cells by reducing the light reflection losses. A finite-difference time domain (FDTD) simulation tool is used to design and simulate the light reflection losses of the subwavelength grating (SWG) structure in GaAs solar cells. The SWG structures perform as an excellent alternative antireflective (AR) coating due to their capacity to reduce the reflection losses in GaAs solar cells. It allows the gradual change in the refractive index that confirms an excellent AR and the light trapping properties, when compared with the planar thin film structures. The nano-rod structure performs as a single layer AR coating, whereas the triangular (i.e., conical or perfect cone) and parabolic (i.e., trapezoidal/truncated cone) shaped nano-grating structures perform as a multilayer AR coating. The simulation results confirm that the reflection loss of triangular-shaped nano-grating structures having a 300-nm grating height and a 830-nm period is about 2%, which is about 28% less than the flat type substrates. It also found that the intermediate (i.e., trapezoidal and parabolic)-shaped structures, the light reflection loss is lower than the rectangular shaped nano-grating structure, but higher than the triangular shaped nano-grating structure. This analysis confirmed that the triangular shaped nano-gratings are an excellent alternative AR coating for conversion efficiency improvement in GaAs solar cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nano-Structured Solar Cells)
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Open AccessArticle
Non-Vacuum Processed Polymer Composite Antireflection Coating Films for Silicon Solar Cells
Energies 2016, 9(8), 633; https://doi.org/10.3390/en9080633 - 15 Aug 2016
Cited by 6
Abstract
A non-vacuum processing method for preparing polymer-based ZrO2/TiO2 multilayer structure antireflection coating (ARC) films for crystalline silicon solar cells by spin coating is introduced. Initially, ZrO2, TiO2 and surface deactivated-TiO2 (SD-TiO2) based films were [...] Read more.
A non-vacuum processing method for preparing polymer-based ZrO2/TiO2 multilayer structure antireflection coating (ARC) films for crystalline silicon solar cells by spin coating is introduced. Initially, ZrO2, TiO2 and surface deactivated-TiO2 (SD-TiO2) based films were examined separately and the effect of photocatalytic properties of TiO2 film on the reflectivity on silicon surface was investigated. Degradation of the reflectance performance with increasing reflectivity of up to 2% in the ultraviolet region was confirmed. No significant change of the reflectance was observed when utilizing SD-TiO2 and ZrO2 films. Average reflectance (between 300 nm–1100 nm) of the silicon surface coated with optimized polymer-based ZrO2 single or ZrO2/SD-TiO2 multilayer composite films was decreased down to 6.5% and 5.5%, respectively. Improvement of photocurrent density (Jsc) and conversion efficiency (η) of fabricated silicon solar cells owing to the ZrO2/SD-TiO2 multilayer ARC could be confirmed. The photovoltaic properties of Jsc, the open-circuit photo voltage (VOC), the fill factor (FF), and the η were 31.42 mA cm−2, 575 mV, 71.5% and 12.91%. Efficiency of the solar cells was improved by the ZrO2-polymer/SD-TiO2 polymer ARC composite layer by a factor of 0.8% with an increase of Jsc (2.07 mA cm−2) compared to those of fabricated without the ARC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nano-Structured Solar Cells)
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Open AccessArticle
Artist Photovoltaic Modules
Energies 2016, 9(7), 551; https://doi.org/10.3390/en9070551 - 15 Jul 2016
Cited by 3
Abstract
In this paper, a full-color photovoltaic (PV) module, called the artist PV module, is developed by laser processes. A full-color image source is printed on the back of a protective glass using an inkjet printer, and a brightened grayscale mask is used to [...] Read more.
In this paper, a full-color photovoltaic (PV) module, called the artist PV module, is developed by laser processes. A full-color image source is printed on the back of a protective glass using an inkjet printer, and a brightened grayscale mask is used to precisely define regions on the module where colors need to be revealed. Artist PV modules with 1.1 × 1.4 m2 area have high a retaining power output of 139 W and an aesthetic appearance making them more competitive than other building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) products. Furthermore, the installation of artist PV modules as curtain walls without metal frames is also demonstrated. This type of installation offers an aesthetic advantage by introducing supporting fittings, originating from the field of glass technology. Hence, this paper is expected to elevate BIPV modules to an art form and generate research interests in developing more functional PV modules. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nano-Structured Solar Cells)
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Open AccessArticle
NMOS-Based Integrated Modular Bypass for Use in Solar Systems (NIMBUS): Intelligent Bypass for Reducing Partial Shading Power Loss in Solar Panel Applications
Energies 2016, 9(6), 450; https://doi.org/10.3390/en9060450 - 11 Jun 2016
Cited by 3
Abstract
NMOS-based Integrated Modular Bypass for Use in Solar systems (NIMBUS) is designed as a replacement for the traditional bypass diode, used in common solar panels. Because of the series connection between the individual solar cells, the power output of a photovoltaic (PV) panel [...] Read more.
NMOS-based Integrated Modular Bypass for Use in Solar systems (NIMBUS) is designed as a replacement for the traditional bypass diode, used in common solar panels. Because of the series connection between the individual solar cells, the power output of a photovoltaic (PV) panel will drop disproportionally under partial shading. Currently, this is solved by dividing the PV panel into substrings, each with a diode bypass placed in parallel. This allows an alternative current path. However, the diodes still have a significant voltage drop (about 350 mV), and due to the fairly large currents in a panel, the diodes are dissipating power that we would rather see at the output of the panel. The NIMBUS chip, being a low-voltage-drop switch, aims to replace these diodes and, thus, reduce that power loss. NIMBUS is a smart bypass: a completely stand-alone system that detects the failing of one or more cells and activates when necessary. It is designed for a 100-mV voltage drop under a 5-A load current. When two or more NIMBUS chips are placed in parallel, an internal synchronization circuit ensures proper operation to provide for larger load currents. This paper will elaborate on the operation, design and implementation of the NIMBUS chip, as well as on the first measurements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nano-Structured Solar Cells)
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Open AccessArticle
High Stable, Transparent and Conductive ZnO/Ag/ZnO Nanofilm Electrodes on Rigid/Flexible Substrates
Energies 2016, 9(6), 443; https://doi.org/10.3390/en9060443 - 08 Jun 2016
Cited by 17
Abstract
Here, highly transparent, conductive, and stable ZnO/Ag/ZnO electrodes on transparent rigid glass and flexible substrates were prepared by facile, room-temperature magnetron sputtering, in which the continuous Ag layers were obtained by means of oxidization-induced effect under an Ar atmosphere with tiny amounts of [...] Read more.
Here, highly transparent, conductive, and stable ZnO/Ag/ZnO electrodes on transparent rigid glass and flexible substrates were prepared by facile, room-temperature magnetron sputtering, in which the continuous Ag layers were obtained by means of oxidization-induced effect under an Ar atmosphere with tiny amounts of O2. The results showed an appropriate amount of O2 was beneficial to form continuous Ag films because of the adsorption of oxygen between the ZnO and Ag layers. When the concentration of O2 in the Ar atmosphere was 2.0%–3.0%, ZnO (40 nm)/Ag (10 nm)/ZnO (40 nm) films on rigid glass showed visible-range transmittance of 94.8% and sheet resistance of 8.58 Ω·sq−1, while the corresponding data on flexible PET substrates were 95.9% and 8.11 Ω·sq−1, respectively. In addition, the outstanding electrodes remained stable for more than six months under air conditioned conditions. The electrodes are fully functional as universal rigid/flexible electrodes for high-performance electronic applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nano-Structured Solar Cells)
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Open AccessArticle
Analytical Model for Voltage-Dependent Photo and Dark Currents in Bulk Heterojunction Organic Solar Cells
Energies 2016, 9(6), 412; https://doi.org/10.3390/en9060412 - 26 May 2016
Cited by 12
Abstract
A physics-based explicit mathematical model for the external voltage-dependent forward dark current in bulk heterojunction (BHJ) organic solar cells is developed by considering Shockley-Read-Hall (SRH) recombination and solving the continuity equations for both electrons and holes. An analytical model for the external voltage-dependent [...] Read more.
A physics-based explicit mathematical model for the external voltage-dependent forward dark current in bulk heterojunction (BHJ) organic solar cells is developed by considering Shockley-Read-Hall (SRH) recombination and solving the continuity equations for both electrons and holes. An analytical model for the external voltage-dependent photocurrent in BHJ organic solar cells is also proposed by incorporating exponential photon absorption, dissociation efficiency of bound electron-hole pairs (EHPs), carrier trapping, and carrier drift and diffusion in the photon absorption layer. Modified Braun’s model is used to compute the electric field-dependent dissociation efficiency of the bound EHPs. The overall net current is calculated considering the actual solar spectrum. The mathematical models are verified by comparing the model calculations with various published experimental results. We analyze the effects of the contact properties, blend compositions, charge carrier transport properties (carrier mobility and lifetime), and cell design on the current-voltage characteristics. The power conversion efficiency of BHJ organic solar cells mostly depends on electron transport properties of the acceptor layer. The results of this paper indicate that improvement of charge carrier transport (both mobility and lifetime) and dissociation of bound EHPs in organic blend are critically important to increase the power conversion efficiency of the BHJ solar cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nano-Structured Solar Cells)
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Open AccessArticle
Fabrication and Characterization of CH3NH3PbI3−xyBrxCly Perovskite Solar Cells
Energies 2016, 9(5), 376; https://doi.org/10.3390/en9050376 - 17 May 2016
Cited by 17
Abstract
Fabrication and characterization of CH3NH3PbI3−xyBrxCly perovskite solar cells using mesoporous TiO2 as electron transporting layer and 2,2′,7,7′-tetrakis-(N,N-di-4-methoxyphenylamino)-9,9′-spirobifluorene as a hole-transporting layer (HTL) were performed. The purpose of the [...] Read more.
Fabrication and characterization of CH3NH3PbI3−xyBrxCly perovskite solar cells using mesoporous TiO2 as electron transporting layer and 2,2′,7,7′-tetrakis-(N,N-di-4-methoxyphenylamino)-9,9′-spirobifluorene as a hole-transporting layer (HTL) were performed. The purpose of the present study is to investigate role of halogen doping using iodine (I), bromine (Br) and chlorine (Cl) compounds as dopant on the photovoltaic performance and microstructures of CH3NH3PbI3−xyBrxCly perovskite solar cells. The X-ray diffraction identified a slight decrease of crystal spacing in the perovskite crystal structure doped with a small amount of I, Br, and Cl in the perovskite compounds. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) showed the perovskite crystal behavior depended on molar ratio of halogen of Pb, I, Br and Cl. Incorporation of the halogen doping into the perovskite crystal structure improved photo generation, carrier diffusion without carrier recombination in the perovskite layer and optimization of electronic structure related with the photovoltaic parameters of open-circuit voltage, short-circuit current density and conversion efficiency. The energy diagram and photovoltaic mechanisms of the perovskite solar cells were discussed in the context of the experimental results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nano-Structured Solar Cells)
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Open AccessArticle
Reconfiguration of Urban Photovoltaic Arrays Using Commercial Devices
Energies 2016, 9(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/en9010002 - 22 Dec 2015
Cited by 7
Abstract
A recent approach to mitigate the adverse effects of photovoltaic (PV) arrays operating under mismatching conditions is the dynamic electrical reconfiguration of the PV panels. This paper introduces a procedure to determine the best configuration of a PV array connected in a series-parallel [...] Read more.
A recent approach to mitigate the adverse effects of photovoltaic (PV) arrays operating under mismatching conditions is the dynamic electrical reconfiguration of the PV panels. This paper introduces a procedure to determine the best configuration of a PV array connected in a series-parallel structure without using complex mathematical models. Such a procedure uses the experimental current vs. voltage curves of the PV panels, which are composed of multiple PV modules, to construct the power vs. voltage curves of all of the possible configurations to identify the optimal one. The main advantage of this method is the low computational effort required to reconstruct the power vs. voltage curves of the array. This characteristic enables one to implement the proposed solution using inexpensive embedded devices, which are widely adopted in industrial applications. The proposed method, and its embedded implementation, were tested using a hardware-in-the-loop simulation of the PV system. Finally, the real-time operation and benefits of the proposed solution are illustrated using a practical example based on commercial devices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nano-Structured Solar Cells)
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