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Electrospun Composite Nanofiber Transparent Conductor Layer for Solar Cells

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 June 2011

Justin Ritchie
Affiliation:
Dept. of Materials Engineering, University of British Columbia, 309-6350 Stores Road Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z4, Canada
Joël Mertens
Affiliation:
Dept. of Materials Engineering, University of British Columbia, 309-6350 Stores Road Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z4, Canada
Heejae Yang
Affiliation:
Dept. of Materials Engineering, University of British Columbia, 309-6350 Stores Road Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z4, Canada
Peyman Servati
Affiliation:
Dept. of Electrical Engineering, University of British Columbia, 5500 - 2332 Main Mall Vancouver B.C. V6T 1Z4, Canada
Frank K. Ko
Affiliation:
Dept. of Materials Engineering, University of British Columbia, 309-6350 Stores Road Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z4, Canada
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Abstract

Developing a durable and scalable transparent conductor (TC) as an electrode with high optical transmission and low sheet resistance is a significant opportunity for enabling next generation solar cell devices. High performance fibrous composite materials based on a carrier polymer with embedded functional nanostructures have the potential to serve as a TC with high surface area that can be deposited by the novel and scalable process of electrospinning. This work presents the development of a fibrous TC, where polyacrylonitrile (PAN) is used as a carrier polymer for multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) to create electroactive nanofibers 200-500nm in diameter. Once carbonized, thin layers of this material have a low sheet resistance and high optical transmission. It is shown that in a two stage carbonization process, the second stage temperature of above 700C is the primary factor in establishing a highly conductive material and single layers of nanofibers are typically destabilized at high temperatures. A high performance TC has been developed through optimizing carbonization rates and temperatures to allow for single nanofiber layers fabricated by electrospinning MWCNT/PAN solutions onto quartz. These TCs have been optimized for concentrations of MWCNTs less than 20% volume fraction with well above 90% transmissivity and sheet resistances of between .5-1kohm/square. The required MWCNT loading is well below that for TCs based on random networks of MWCNTs.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2011

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