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Posted on March 15, 2011 by  & 

University sets new record for kesterite-based solar cells

Continuing the efforts in the development of lower cost thin film photovoltaic cells, the Laboratory for Photovoltaics at the University of Luxembourg has set a new European record for kesterite-based solar cells, with an efficiency of 6.1%, verified by the Frauhofer ISE, one of the 6 laboratories in the world that have been chosen to provide certification of solar cell efficiencies.
 
Kesterite allows for the development of low cost solar cells due to the extremely low cost of its constituting raw materials. Composition is mainly based on copper, zinc, tin, sulphur and selenium, elements that are abundant in nature hence, can be very low cost.
 
Several laboratories in the past have reported problems during the deposition process relating to the loss of tin during preparation at high temperatures. The loss of tin leads to difficulties in controlling the composition of the thin film that eventually leads to poor performance of the solar cell. The laboratory at the University of Luxembourg used a manufacturing process that eliminated these problems, leading to the record breaking cell at the first manufacturing attempt. The processing details were published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
 
 
As an added benefit, laboratory researchers have figured out how to begin the manufacturing process with a precursor film of only copper and zinc, allowing for the addition of the other materials at a later stage. This leads to simplification of the fabrication process, as material proportions become much easier to monitor and control.
 
"Thanks to this first success, we are able to focus on understanding other issues relating to these solar cells, which will allow us to increase their efficiency even more in the future" said Susanne Siebentritt, director of the Laboratory for Photovoltaics.
 
The laboratory was put together in Luxembourg in 2007 as a partnership between the private sector (represented by TDK Corporation) and the public sector (represented by the University of Luxembourg).
 
The laboratory brings together researchers trying to develop new material systems and processes for photovoltaic solar cells. That is not the only focus of the laboratory's work though as, research on the understanding of the physical properties of the utilised materials and their interfaces is equally important.
 
 

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Principal Analyst

Posted on: March 15, 2011

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