Special Issue "Nanoparticles for Photovoltaics"

A special issue of Nanomaterials (ISSN 2079-4991). This special issue belongs to the section "Nanophotonics Materials and Devices".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 November 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Marcel Di Vece
Website
Guest Editor
Associate professor, Department of Physics, Milano University, Italy
Interests: nanoparticles; solar cells; nanophotonics; plasmonics; quantum dots; thin films; semiconductors

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past several decades, photovoltaic (PV) technologies have demonstrated continuous progress and cost reduction. Nevertheless, PV technologies currently only provide for approximately 1% of the global energy consumption, and considerable gains can be achieved when the solar panels become more efficient and much cheaper. Although highly efficient solar cells are currently available, high manufacturing cost prevents these solar energy devices from obtaining a larger share of the energy market. Therefore, producing highly efficient solar cells with low-cost materials and techniques is highly desirable. Novel methods should be able to increase the efficiency of solar cells made of conventional and new materials in a realistic manner. From the solar cell fabrication point of view, a simple, fast, low-temperature, and clean process is required for such novel methods. This makes bottom-up methods such as the use of nanoparticles realistic and important, and therefore the focus of this Special Issue is on “Nanoparticles for Photovoltaics”. Nanoparticles can be used as constituents (e.g., quantum dots), or for light management structures (e.g., plasmonic and Mie scatterers). Light management methods have been investigated with respect to conventional solar cell compositions. New materials such as the kesterites and perovskites are now awaiting such explorations. A recent addition to these novel concepts is the light budgeting method using up and down converter particles. Both physical (e.g., with gas aggregation nanoparticle sources) and chemical nanoparticle preparation will likely be used in solar cell device fabrication. With this Special Issue, we aim to cover all of these promising topics related to the use of nanoparticles to increase solar cell performance.

Prof. Dr. Marcel Di Vece
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • nanoparticles
  • solar cells
  • photovoltaics
  • novel concepts
  • light management
  • plasmonic particles
  • Mie scatterers
  • up/down converters
  • quantum dots
  • semiconductor films

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Using Dual Microresonant Cavity and Plasmonic Effects to Enhance the Photovoltaic Efficiency of Flexible Polymer Solar Cells
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(5), 944; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10050944 - 15 May 2020
Abstract
Fabricating polymer solar cells (PSCs) on flexible polymer substrates, instead of on hard glass, is attractive for implementing the advantage and uniqueness of the PSCs represented by mechanically rollable and light-weight natures. However, simultaneously achieving reliable robustness and high-power conversion efficiency (PCE) in [...] Read more.
Fabricating polymer solar cells (PSCs) on flexible polymer substrates, instead of on hard glass, is attractive for implementing the advantage and uniqueness of the PSCs represented by mechanically rollable and light-weight natures. However, simultaneously achieving reliable robustness and high-power conversion efficiency (PCE) in such flexible PSCs is still technically challenging due to poor light harvesting of thin photoactive polymers. In this work, we report a facile, effective strategy for improving the light-harvesting performance of flexible PSCs without sacrificing rollability. Very high transparent (93.67% in 400–800 nm) and low sheet resistance (~10 Ω sq−1) ZnO/Ag(O)/ZnO electrodes were implemented as the flexible substrates. In systematically comparison with ZnO/Ag/ZnO electrodes, small amount of oxygen induced continuous metallic films with lower thickness, which resulted in higher transmittance and lower sheet resistance. To increase the light absorption of thin active layer (maintain the high rollability of active layer), a unique platform simultaneously utilizing both a transparent electrode configuration based on an ultrathin oxygen-doped Ag, Ag(O), and film and plasmonic [email protected]2 nanoparticles were designed for fully leveraging the advantages of duel microresonant cavity and plasmonic effects to enhance light absorbance in photoactive polymers. A combination of the ZnO/Ag(O)/ZnO electrode and [email protected]2 nanoparticles significantly increased the short-current density of PSCs to 17.98 mA cm−2 with enhancing the photoluminescence of PTB7-Th film. The flexible PSC using the optimized configuration provided an average PCE of 8.04% for flexible PSCs, which was increased by 36.27% compared to that of the PSC merely using a conventional transparent indium tin oxide electrode. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanoparticles for Photovoltaics)
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Open AccessArticle
Down-Shifting and Anti-Reflection Effect of CsPbBr3 Quantum Dots/Multicrystalline Silicon Hybrid Structures for Enhanced Photovoltaic Properties
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(4), 775; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10040775 - 17 Apr 2020
Abstract
Over the past couple of decades, extensive research has been conducted on silicon (Si) based solar cells, whose power conversion efficiency (PCE) still has limitations because of a mismatched solar spectrum. Recently, a down-shifting effect has provided a new way to improve cell [...] Read more.
Over the past couple of decades, extensive research has been conducted on silicon (Si) based solar cells, whose power conversion efficiency (PCE) still has limitations because of a mismatched solar spectrum. Recently, a down-shifting effect has provided a new way to improve cell performances by converting ultraviolet (UV) photons to visible light. In this work, caesium lead bromide perovskite quantum dots (CsPbBr3 QDs) are synthesized with a uniform size of 10 nm. Exhibiting strong absorption of near UV light and intense photoluminescence (PL) peak at 515 nm, CsPbBr3 QDs show a potential application of the down-shifting effect. CsPbBr3 QDs/multicrystalline silicon (mc-Si) hybrid structured solar cells are fabricated and systematically studied. Compared with mc-Si solar cells, CsPbBr3 QDs/mc-Si solar cells have obvious improvement in external quantum efficiency (EQE) within the wavelength ranges of both 300 to 500 nm and 700 to 1100 nm, which can be attributed to the down-shifting effect and the anti-reflection property of CsPbBr3 QDs through the formation of CsPbBr3 QDs/mc-Si structures. Furthermore, a detailed discussion of contact resistance and interface defects is provided. As a result, the coated CsPbBr3 QDs are optimized to be two layers and the solar cell exhibits a highest PCE of 14.52%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanoparticles for Photovoltaics)
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Open AccessArticle
Performance of Graphene–CdS Hybrid Nanocomposite Thin Film for Applications in Cu(In,Ga)Se2 Solar Cell and H2 Production
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(2), 245; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10020245 - 30 Jan 2020
Abstract
A graphene–cadmium sulfide (Gr–CdS) nanocomposite was prepared by a chemical solution method, and its material properties were characterized by several analysis techniques. The synthesized pure CdS nanoparticles (NPs) and Gr–CdS nanocomposites were confirmed to have a stoichiometric atomic ratio (Cd/S = 1:1). The [...] Read more.
A graphene–cadmium sulfide (Gr–CdS) nanocomposite was prepared by a chemical solution method, and its material properties were characterized by several analysis techniques. The synthesized pure CdS nanoparticles (NPs) and Gr–CdS nanocomposites were confirmed to have a stoichiometric atomic ratio (Cd/S = 1:1). The Cd 3d and S 2p peaks of the Gr–CdS nanocomposite appeared at lower binding energies compared to those of the pure CdS NPs according to X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analyses. The formation of the Gr–CdS nanocomposite was also evidenced by the structural analysis using Raman spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction. Transmission electron microscopy confirmed that CdS NPs were uniformly distributed on the graphene sheets. The absorption spectra of both the Gr–CdS nanocomposite and pure CdS NPs thin films showed an absorption edge at 550 nm related to the energy band gap of CdS (~2.42 eV). The Cu(In,Ga)Se2 thin film photovoltaic device with Gr–CdS nanocomposite buffer layer showed a higher electrical conversion efficiency than that with pure CdS NPs thin film buffer layer. In addition, the water splitting efficiency of the Gr–CdS nanocomposite was almost three times higher than that of pure CdS NPs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanoparticles for Photovoltaics)
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Open AccessArticle
Preparation of Transparent Conductive Electrode via Layer-By-Layer Deposition of Silver Nanowires and Its Application in Organic Photovoltaic Device
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(1), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10010046 - 24 Dec 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Solution processed transparent conductive electrodes (TCEs) were fabricated via layer-by-layer (LBL) deposition of silver nanowires (AgNWs). First, the AgNWs were coated on (3-Mercaptopropyl)trimethoxysilane modified glass substrates. Then, multilayer AgNW films were obtained by using 1,3-propanedithiol as a linker via LBL deposition, which made [...] Read more.
Solution processed transparent conductive electrodes (TCEs) were fabricated via layer-by-layer (LBL) deposition of silver nanowires (AgNWs). First, the AgNWs were coated on (3-Mercaptopropyl)trimethoxysilane modified glass substrates. Then, multilayer AgNW films were obtained by using 1,3-propanedithiol as a linker via LBL deposition, which made it possible to control the optical transmittance and sheet resistance of multilayer thin films. Next, thermal annealing of AgNW films was performed in order to agent their electrical conductivity. AgNW monolayer films were characterized by UV-Vis spectrometer, field emission scanning electron microscopy, optical microscopy, atomic force microscopy and sheet resistance measurement by four-point probe method. The high performances were achieved with multilayer films, which provided sheet resistances of 9 Ω/sq, 11 Ω/sq with optical transmittances of 71%, 70% at 550 nm, which are comparable to commercial indium tin oxide (ITO) electrodes. Finally, an organic photovoltaic device was fabricated on the AgNW multilayer electrodes for demonstration purpose, which exhibited power conversion efficiency of 1.1%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanoparticles for Photovoltaics)
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Open AccessArticle
Aqueous-Based Binary Sulfide Nanoparticle Inks for Cu2ZnSnS4 Thin Films Stabilized with Tin(IV) Chalcogenide Complexes
Nanomaterials 2019, 9(10), 1382; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano9101382 - 26 Sep 2019
Abstract
Cu2ZnSnS4 (CZTS) is a promising semiconductor material for photovoltaic applications, with excellent optical and electronic properties while boasting a nontoxic, inexpensive, and abundant elemental composition. Previous high-quality CZTS thin films often required either vacuum-based deposition processes or the use of [...] Read more.
Cu2ZnSnS4 (CZTS) is a promising semiconductor material for photovoltaic applications, with excellent optical and electronic properties while boasting a nontoxic, inexpensive, and abundant elemental composition. Previous high-quality CZTS thin films often required either vacuum-based deposition processes or the use of organic ligands/solvents for ink formulation, which are associated with various issues regarding performance or economic feasibility. To address these issues, an alternative method for depositing CZTS thin films using an aqueous-based nanoparticle suspension is demonstrated in this work. Nanoparticles of constituent binary sulfides (CuxS and ZnS) are stabilized in an ink using tin(IV)-based, metal chalcogenide complexes such as [Sn2S6]4−. This research paper provides a systematic study of the nanoparticle synthesis and ink formulation via the enabling role of the tin chalcogenide complexing power, the deposition of high-quality CZTS thin films via spin coating and annealing under sulfur vapor atmosphere, their structural characterization in terms of nanocrystal phase, morphology, microstructure, and densification, and their resultant optoelectronic properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanoparticles for Photovoltaics)
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Open AccessArticle
TiO2 Coated ZnO Nanorods by Mist Chemical Vapor Deposition for Application as Photoanodes for Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells
Nanomaterials 2019, 9(9), 1339; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano9091339 - 19 Sep 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
In this study, a mist chemical vapor deposition method was applied to create a coating of titanium dioxide particles in order to fabricate ZnO/TiO2 core–shell nanostructures. The thin layers of titanium dioxide on the zinc oxide nanorods were uniform and confirmed as [...] Read more.
In this study, a mist chemical vapor deposition method was applied to create a coating of titanium dioxide particles in order to fabricate ZnO/TiO2 core–shell nanostructures. The thin layers of titanium dioxide on the zinc oxide nanorods were uniform and confirmed as pure anatase phase. The morphological, structural, optical and photoluminescence properties of the ZnO/TiO2 core–shell structures were influenced by coating time. For instance, the crystallinity of the titanium dioxide increased in accordance with an increase in the duration of the coating time. Additionally, the thickness of the titanium dioxide layer gradually increased with the coating time, resulting in an increased surface area. The transmittance of the arrayed ZnO/TiO2 core–shell structures was 65% after 15 min of coating. The obtained ZnO/TiO2 core–shell nanostructures demonstrated high potentiality to serve as photoanodes for application in dye-sensitized solar cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanoparticles for Photovoltaics)
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Open AccessArticle
Mode Splitting Induced by Mesoscopic Electron Dynamics in Strongly Coupled Metal Nanoparticles on Dielectric Substrates
Nanomaterials 2019, 9(9), 1206; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano9091206 - 27 Aug 2019
Abstract
We study strong optical coupling of metal nanoparticle arrays with dielectric substrates. Based on the Fermi Golden Rule, the particle–substrate coupling is derived in terms of the photon absorption probability assuming a local dipole field. An increase in photocurrent gain is achieved through [...] Read more.
We study strong optical coupling of metal nanoparticle arrays with dielectric substrates. Based on the Fermi Golden Rule, the particle–substrate coupling is derived in terms of the photon absorption probability assuming a local dipole field. An increase in photocurrent gain is achieved through the optical coupling. In addition, we describe light-induced, mesoscopic electron dynamics via the nonlocal hydrodynamic theory of charges. At small nanoparticle size (<20 nm), the impact of this type of spatial dispersion becomes sizable. Both absorption and scattering cross sections of the nanoparticle are significantly increased through the contribution of additional nonlocal modes. We observe a splitting of local optical modes spanning several tenths of nanometers. This is a signature of semi-classical, strong optical coupling via the dynamic Stark effect, known as Autler–Townes splitting. The photocurrent generated in this description is increased by up to 2%, which agrees better with recent experiments than compared to identical classical setups with up to 6%. Both, the expressions derived for the particle–substrate coupling and the additional hydrodynamic equation for electrons are integrated into COMSOL for our simulations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanoparticles for Photovoltaics)
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Open AccessArticle
Efficient, Stable, and Low-Cost PbS Quantum Dot Solar Cells with Cr–Ag Electrodes
Nanomaterials 2019, 9(9), 1205; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano9091205 - 27 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
PbS quantum dots (QDs) are a promising nanostructured material for solar cells. However, limited works have been done to explore the active layer thickness, layer deposition techniques, stability improvement, and cost reduction for PbS QD solar cells. We address those issues of device [...] Read more.
PbS quantum dots (QDs) are a promising nanostructured material for solar cells. However, limited works have been done to explore the active layer thickness, layer deposition techniques, stability improvement, and cost reduction for PbS QD solar cells. We address those issues of device fabrication herein and suggest their possible solutions. In our work, to get the maximum current density from a PbS QD solar cell, we estimated the optimized active layer thickness using Matlab simulation. After that, we fabricated a high-performance and low-cost QD photovoltaic (PV) device with the simulated optimized active layer thickness. We implemented this low-cost device using a 10 mg/mL PbS concentration. Here, spin coating and drop-cast layer deposition methods were used and compared. We found that the device prepared by the spin coating method was more efficient than that by the drop cast method. The spin-coated PbS QD solar cell provided 6.5% power conversion efficiency (PCE) for the AM1.5 light spectrum. Besides this, we observed that Cr (chromium) interfaced with the Ag (Cr–Ag) electrode can provide a highly air-stable electrode. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanoparticles for Photovoltaics)
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Open AccessArticle
Using a Neural Network to Improve the Optical Absorption in Halide Perovskite Layers Containing Core-Shells Silver Nanoparticles
Nanomaterials 2019, 9(3), 437; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano9030437 - 15 Mar 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Core-shells metallic nanoparticles have the advantage of possessing two plasmon resonances, one in the visible and one in the infrared part of the spectrum. This special property is used in this work to enhance the efficiency of thin film solar cells by improving [...] Read more.
Core-shells metallic nanoparticles have the advantage of possessing two plasmon resonances, one in the visible and one in the infrared part of the spectrum. This special property is used in this work to enhance the efficiency of thin film solar cells by improving the optical absorption at both wavelength ranges simultaneously by using a neural network. Although many thin-film solar cell compositions can benefit from such a design, in this work, different silver core-shell configurations were explored inside a Halide Perovskite (CH3NH3PbI3) thin film. Because the number of potential configurations is infinite, only a limited number of finite difference time domain (FDTD) simulations were performed. A neural network was then trained with the simulation results to find the core-shells configurations with optimal optical absorption across different wavelength ranges. This demonstrates that core-shells nanoparticles can make an important contribution to improving solar cell performance and that neural networks can be used to find optimal results in such nanophotonic systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanoparticles for Photovoltaics)
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Open AccessArticle
CuInTe2 Nanocrystals: Shape and Size Control, Formation Mechanism and Application, and Use as Photovoltaics
Nanomaterials 2019, 9(3), 409; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano9030409 - 11 Mar 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
We report on the synthesis of CuInTe2 nanoparticles and their function in photovoltaic equipment, such as solar cells. Under certain synthesis conditions, the CuInTe2 nanocrystals form shape with nanocrystals, nanorods or nanocubes. It was found that CuTe nanocrystals could be converted [...] Read more.
We report on the synthesis of CuInTe2 nanoparticles and their function in photovoltaic equipment, such as solar cells. Under certain synthesis conditions, the CuInTe2 nanocrystals form shape with nanocrystals, nanorods or nanocubes. It was found that CuTe nanocrystals could be converted to CuInTe2 by addition of an In reactant. CuInTe2 nanorods were synthesized using this method. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanoparticles for Photovoltaics)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Aqueous-Based Binary Sulfide Nanoparticle Inks for Cu2ZnSnS4 Thin Films Stabilized with Inorganic Metal Chalcogenide Complexes
Author: Han Wang, Amrita Yasin, Nathaniel J. Quitoriano, and George P. Demopoulos
Abstract: Cu2ZnSnS4 (CZTS) is a promising semiconductor material for photovoltaic applications, with excellent optical and electronic properties while boasting a nontoxic, inexpensive, and abundant elemental composition. Previous high-quality CZTS thin films often required either vacuum-based deposition processes or the use of organic ligands/solvents for ink formulation, which are associated with various issues regarding performance or economic feasibility. To address these issues, an alternative method for depositing CZTS thin films using an aqueous-based nanoparticle suspension is demonstrated in this work. Nanoparticles of constituent binary sulfides (Cu2S and ZnS) are stabilized in the ink using a tin-based, metal chalcogenide complex (Sn2S64-). This research paper provides a systematic study of nanoparticle synthesis and ink formulation via the enabling role of the tin chalcogenide complex, the deposition of high-quality CZTS thin films via spin coating and annealing under sulfur vapor atmosphere, their structural characterization in terms of nanocrystal phase, morphology, and densification, and their optoelectronic properties analyzed via absorbance and photoluminescence spectra.
Keywords: Cu2ZnSnS4; kesterite; photovoltaics; semiconductor films; nanoparticles, spin coating, aqueous ink formulation

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