Thin-film Sb2Se3 photovoltaics with oriented one-dimensional ribbons and benign grain boundaries



Solar cells based on inorganic absorbers, such as Si, GaAs, CdTe and Cu(In,Ga)Se2, permit a high device efficiency and stability. The crystals’ three-dimensional structure means that dangling bonds inevitably exist at the grain boundaries (GBs), which significantly degrades the device performance via recombination losses. Thus, the growth of single-crystalline materials or the passivation of defects at the GBs is required to address this problem, which introduces an added processing complexity and cost. Here we report that antimony selenide (Sb2Se3)—a simple, non-toxic and low-cost material with an optimal solar bandgap of 1.1 eV—exhibits intrinsically benign GBs because of its one-dimensional crystal structure. Using a simple and fast (1 μm min–1) rapid thermal evaporation process, we oriented crystal growth perpendicular to the substrate, and produced Sb2Se3 thin-film solar cells with a certified device efficiency of 5.6%. Our results suggest that the family of one-dimensional crystals, including Sb2Se3, SbSeI and Bi2S3, show promise in photovoltaic applications.

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Figure 1: Crystal structure, DOS and recombination loss at the GBs in CdTe and Sb2Se3 solar cells.
Figure 2: Structure and TEM analysis of Sb2Se3 films and devices.
Figure 3: Device performance and its correlation with crystalline orientation.
Figure 4: Surface potential at Sb2Se3 GBs and EBIC images from a crystallographically well-oriented device (deposited onto 300 °C substrates).
Figure 5: Device performance (certified) and stability.


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This work is supported by the Director Fund of WNLO, the National 1000 Young Talents project, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC 61274055, 91233121, 91433105, 21403078) and the 973 Program of China (2011CBA00703). The authors thank the Analytical and Testing Center of HUST, the Center for Nanoscale Characterization and Devices of WNLO and the Suzhou Institute of Nano-Tech and Nano-Bionics for the characterization support. Y. Yan at the University of Toledo and H. Zhong at the Beijing Institute of Technology are acknowledged for helpful discussions.

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Y.Z. and J.T. conceived the idea, designed the experiments and analysed the data. Y.Z. and L.W. carried out most of the characterizations and device optimizations. S.C. performed the theoretical simulations and analysed the results. S.Q. and X.L. initialized the RTE process. J.C., D-J.X., M.L. and Y.C. participated in the device optimization and data analysis. Y.Ch. helped with the manuscript preparation. E.H.S. and J.T. wrote the paper; all the authors commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jiang Tang.

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Zhou, Y., Wang, L., Chen, S. et al. Thin-film Sb2Se3 photovoltaics with oriented one-dimensional ribbons and benign grain boundaries. Nature Photon 9, 409–415 (2015).

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