Stable 6%-efficient Sb2Se3 solar cells with a ZnO buffer layer


Sb2Se3, a binary compound containing non-toxic and Earth-abundant constituents, is a promising absorber material for low-cost, high-efficiency photovoltaics. Current Sb2Se3 thin-film solar cells use toxic CdS as the buffer layer and suffer from unsatisfactory stability. Here we selected ZnO as the buffer layer and constructed superstrate Sb2Se3 solar cells with a certified power conversion efficiency of 5.93%. Randomly oriented ZnO produced by spray pyrolysis induced the growth of Sb2Se3 with preferred [221] orientation, and hence resulted in devices with fewer interfacial defects and better efficiency. Moreover, our unencapsulated device survived the stringent damp-heat (85 C, 85% humidity, 1,100 h), light-soaking (50 C, 1.3 sun, 1,100 h), thermal cycling, and ultraviolet preconditioning tests. The combined features of stability, Earth-abundant constituent and potentially low-cost manufacturing highlight the great potential of Sb2Se3 solar cell as a possible non-toxic alternative to CdTe photovoltaics.

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Figure 1: Deposition and characterization of ZnO and Sb2Se3 layer.
Figure 2: Analysis of orientation-dependent performance.
Figure 3: Device configuration and performance.
Figure 4: Device stability.
Figure 5: Mechanistic investigation of improved device stability.


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This work was financially supported by the Major State Basic Research Development Program of China (2016YFB0700700, 2016YFA0204000), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (91433105, 61322401, 11474273 and 51602114), and the Special Fund for Strategic New Development of Shenzhen, China (JCYJ20160414102210144). H. Deng was also supported by the Youth Innovation Promotion Association of CAS (2017154). The authors thank the Analytical and Testing Center of HUST and the facility support of the Center for Nanoscale Characterization and Devices, WNLO. We also thank B. Yang for X-ray diffraction measurements, and thank A. Mei and H. Han for providing the ultraviolet test facility and R. Chen for her help in atomic-layer-deposited Al2O3.

Author information

J.T. supervised the whole project. L.W., D.-B.L., K.L., C.C. and J.T. conceived the idea, designed the experiments and analysed the data. L.W., D.-B.L. and K.L. carried out most material characterizations and device optimizations. C.C. carried out device characterization. H.-X.D. performed the theoretical simulation and analysed the results. L.G. and Y.Z. and G.N. assisted in device optimization and data analysis. J.F. and L.L. carried out the cross-sectional TEM characterization. Y.H. and S.H.S. assisted in the certification process, and F.H. provided the single-crystalline ZnO substrates. L.W., D.-B.L., K.L., C.C. and J.T. wrote the paper; all authors commented on the manuscript.

Correspondence to Jiang Tang.

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Supplementary Figures 1–13, Supplementary Table 1, Supplementary Notes 1 and 2 (PDF 1632 kb)

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Wang, L., Li, D., Li, K. et al. Stable 6%-efficient Sb2Se3 solar cells with a ZnO buffer layer. Nat Energy 2, 17046 (2017).

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