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Here, we report thiol-free thermal-injection synthesis of chalcopyrite (CuFeS2) nanocrystals (NCs) using iron (II) bromide (FeBr2), copper (II) acetaylacetonate (Cu(acac)2), and elemental sulfur (S). Controlled reaction temperature and growth time yield stable and phase-pure ternary CuFeS2 NCs exhibiting tetragonal crystal structure. With increasing growth time from 1 to 30 min, absorption peak slightly red shifts from 465 to 490 nm. Based on spectroscopic ellipsometry analysis, three electronic transitions at 0.652, 1.54, and 2.29 eV were found for CuFeS2 NC film. Also, CuFeS2 NC thin films are incorporated as hole transport layers in cadmium telluride solar cells reaching an efficiency of ~12%.
The cadmium telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) comprise an efficient and cost-effective technology for harvesting solar energy. However, device efficiency remains limited in part by low-open circuit voltage (VOC) and fill factor (FF) due to inefficient transport of photo-generated charge carriers. Given the deep valence band of CdTe, the use of copper/gold (Cu/Au) as a back contact serves primarily to narrow the width of the inherent Schottky junction evident in CdTe solar cells (in our laboratory, Cu/Au has been used as a standard back contact). For efficient transport of carriers to and into the back contact, a hole transport layer (HTL) is desired with valence band edge comparable to that of CdTe (∼ -5.9 eV). Here, we report solution-processed nanocrystal (NCs) based thin films as HTLs in CdTe solar cells. The earth abundant materials we discuss include iron pyrite (FeS2), nickel-alloyed iron pyrite (NixFe1-xS2), zinc copper sulfide (ZnxCu1-xS) nanocomposites, and perovskite-based films. The FeS2 and NixFe1-xS2 NCs are synthesized by a hot-injection route, and thin films are fabricated by drop-casting, and spin-coating techniques using colloidal NCs. ZnxCu1-xS thin films are fabricated by chemical bath deposition. These NC-based thin films are applied and studied as the HTLs in CdTe devices. On using these materials, the device performance can be increased up to 10% compared to the standard Cu/Au back contact. Here, we discuss the benefits, challenges, and opportunities for these back contact materials in CdTe photovoltaics.
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