Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Hydrothermal deposition of antimony selenosulfide thin films enables solar cells with 10% efficiency


Antimony selenosulfide, Sb2(S,Se)3, has attracted attention over the last few years as a light-harvesting material for photovoltaic technology owing to its phase stability, earth abundancy and low toxicity. However, the lack of a suitable material processing approach to obtain Sb2(S,Se)3 films with optimal optoelectronic properties and morphology severely hampers prospects for efficiency improvement. Here we demonstrate a hydrothermal approach to deposit high-quality Sb2(S,Se)3 films. By varying the Se/S ratio and the temperature of the post-deposition annealing, we improve the film morphology, increase the grain size and reduce the number of defects. In particular, we find that increasing the Se/S ratio leads to a favourable orientation of the (Sb4S(e)6)n ribbons (S(e) represents S or Se). By optmizing the hydrothermal deposition parameters and subsequent annealing, we report a Sb2(S,Se)3 cell with a certified 10.0% efficiency. This result highlights the potential of Sb2(S,Se)3 as an emerging photovoltaic material.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Synthesis of Sb2(S,Se)3 and structural characterization.
Fig. 2: Crystal growth illustration and morphology characterization.
Fig. 3: Device structure and photovoltaic performance.
Fig. 4: Deep-level defect characterization.
Fig. 5: Carrier transport analyses.

Data availability

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the published article and its Supplementary Information and Source Data files. Source data are provided with this paper.


  1. 1.

    Green, M. A. et al. Solar cell efficiency tables (version 54). Progress. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 27, 565–575 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Kondrotas, R., Chen, C. & Tang, J. Sb2S3 solar cells. Joule 2, 857–878 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

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

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Li, Z. et al. 9.2%-efficient core-shell structured antimony selenide nanorod array solar cells. Nat. Commun. 10, 125 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Wang, X. et al. Development of antimony sulfide-selenide Sb2(S,Se)3-based solar cells. J. Energy Chem. 27, 713–721 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Yun, H. et al. Efficient nanostructured TiO2/SnS heterojunction solar cells. Adv. Energy Mater. 9, 1901343 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Bernecheal, M. et al. Solution-processed solar cells based on environmentally friendly AgBiS2 nanocrystals. Nat. Photonics 10, 521–525 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Xue, D. et al. GeSe thin-film solar cells fabricated by self-regulated rapid thermal sublimation. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 139, 958–965 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Shockley, W. & Queisser, H. J. Detailed balance limit of efficiency of p-n junction solar cells. J. Appl. Phys. 32, 510–519 (1961).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Scheer, R. & Schock, H. W. Chalcogenide Photovoltaics: Physics, Technologies, and Thin Film Devices Ch. 3 (John Wiley & Sons, 2011).

  11. 11.

    Park, J.-S., Kim, S. Y., Xie, Z. & Walsh, A. Point defect engineering in thin-film solar cells. Nat. Rev. Mater. 3, 194–210 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Yan, C. et al. Cu2ZnSnS4 solar cells with over 10% power conversion efficiency enabled by heterojunction heat treatment. Nat. Energy 3, 764–772 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Zhou, Y. et al. Thin-film Sb2Se3 photovoltaics with oriented one-dimensional ribbons and benign grain boundaries. Nat. Photonics 9, 409–416 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Wu, C. et al. Interfacial engineering by indium-doped CdS for high efficiency solution processed Sb2(S1-xSex)3 solar cells. ACS Appl. Mater. Inter. 11, 3207–3213 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Yang, B. et al. In situ sulfurization to generate Sb2(Se1-xSx)3 alloyed films and their application for photovoltaics. Progress. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 25, 113–122 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Ishaq, M. et al. Efficient double buffer layer Sb2(SexS1-x)3 thin film solar cell via single source evaporation. Sol. RRL 2, 1800144 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Jaramillo-Quintero, O. A. et al. Influence of the electron buffer layer on the photovoltaic performance of planar Sb2(SxSe1-x)3 solar cells. Progress. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 26, 709–717 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Choi, Y. C. et al. Efficient inorganic-organic heterojunction solar cells employing Sb2(Sx/Se1-x)3 graded-composition sensitizers. Adv. Energy Mater. 4, 1301680 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Wu, C. et al. Water additive enhanced solution processing of alloy Sb2(S1-xSex)3-based solar cells. Sol. RRL 4, 1900582 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Jiang, Q. et al. Surface passivation of perovskite film for efficient solar cells. Nat. Photonics 13, 460–466 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Wang, W. et al. Device characteristics of CZTSSe thin-film solar cells with 12.6% efficiency. Adv. Energy Mater. 4, 1301465 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Wang, X. et al. Interfacial engineering for high efficiency solution processed Sb2Se3 solar cells. Sol. Energ. Mater. Sol. Cells 189, 5–10 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Wang, W. et al. Promising Sb2(S,Se)3 solar cells with high open voltage by application of a TiO2/CdS double buffer layer. Sol. RRL 2, 1800208 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Liu, M., Gong, Y., Li, Z., Dou, M. & Wang, F. A green and facile hydrothermal approach for the synthesis of high-quality semi-conducting Sb2S3 thin films. Appl. Surf. Sci. 387, 790–795 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Filip, M. R., Patrick, C. E. & Giustino, F. GW quasiparticle band structures of stibnite, antimonselite, bismuthinite, and guanajuatite. Phys. Rev. B 87, 205125 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Jiménez, T., Seuret-Jiménez, D., Vigil-Galán, O., Basurto-Pensado, M. A. & Courel, M. Sb2(S1-xSex)3 solar cells: the impact of radiative and non-radiative loss mechanisms. J. Phys. D Appl. Phys. 51, 435501 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Zhou, Y. et al. Buried homojunction in CdS/Sb2Se3 thin film photovoltaics generated by interfacial diffusion. Appl. Phys. Lett. 111, 013901 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Tang, R. et al. Vacuum assisted solution processing for highly efficient Sb2S3 solar cells. J. Mater. Chem. A 6, 16322–16327 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Hu, W. et al. Low-temperature in situ amino functionalization of TiO2 nanoparticles sharpens electron management reaping over 21% efficient planar perovskite solar cells. Adv. Mater. 31, 1806095 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Jung, E. H. et al. Efficient, stable and scalable perovskite solar cells using poly(3-hexylthiophene). Nature 567, 511–515 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Qin, X. et al. Recent progress in stability of perovskite solar cells. J. Semicond. 38, 011002 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Kukimoto, H., Henry, C. H. & Merritt, F. R. Photocapacitance studies of the oxygen donor in GaP. I. Optical cross sections, energy levels, and concentration. Phys. Rev. B 7, 2486–2499 (1973).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Whight, K. R. Junction structure effects on constant capacitance DLTS and ODLTS spectra. Solid State Electron. 25, 893–901 (1982).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Cai, Z., Dai, C.-M. & Chen, S. Intrinsic defect limit to the electrical conductivity and a two-step p-type doping strategy for overcoming the efficiency bottleneck of Sb2S3-based solar cells. Sol. RRL 4, 1900503 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Wen, X. et al. Vapor transport deposition of antimony selenide thin film solar cells with 7.6% efficiency. Nat. Commun. 9, 2179 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Huang, M. et al. Complicated and unconventional defect properties of the quasi-one-dimensional photovoltaic semiconductor Sb2Se3. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 11, 15564–15572 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Liu, X. et al. Enhanced Sb2Se3 solar cell performance through theory-guided defect control. Progress. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 25, 861–870 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Christopher, N. S. & David, O. S. The complex defect chemistry of antimony selenide. J. Mater. Chem. A 7, 10739–10744 (2019).

    Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Christians, J. A. & Kamat, P. V. Trap and transfer. Two-step hole injection across the Sb2S3/CuSCN interface in solid-state solar cells. ACS Nano 7, 7967–7974 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Christians, J. A., Leighton, J. D. T. & Kamat, P. V. Rate limiting interfacial hole transfer in Sb2S3 solid-state solar cells. Energy Environ. Sci. 7, 1148–1158 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Giovanni, D. Coherent spin and quasiparticle dynamics in solution‐processed layered 2D lead halide perovskites. Adv. Sci. 5, 1800664 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


This research was mainly supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2019YFA0405600), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (U1732150) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). X.H., M.A.G. and J.H. acknowledge funding support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (grant RND011). S.C. acknowledges support from National Natural Science Foundation of China under grant nos 61722402 and 91833302 and Shanghai Academic/Technology Research Leader (19XD1421300). The authors appreciate the technical assistance of and the use of facilities at the Electron Microscope Unit, University of New South Wales. The authors acknowledge the use of facilities and the assistance at the University of Wollongong (UOW) Electron Microscopy Centre.

Author information




T.C. supervised the project at University of Science and Technology of China while X.H. and M.A.G. supervised the work at University of New South Wales. R.T., X.W., W.L. and T.C. conceived the original concept and designed the experiments. R.T. and X.W. fabricated the devices and conducted the photovoltaic and optical characterization and analysis, while W.L. carried out the DLTS measurement and analysis. J.H. and X.H. conducted the TEM specimen preparation and performed the HAADF characterization and data analysis. Q.W. and G.X. performed the TA characterization and data analysis. C.J. and Y.Y. assisted with the device fabrication and characterization. C.J. conducted the stability measurement of the solar cell. M.H. and S.C. conducted defect simulations and device analysis. R.T. and T.C. co-wrote the manuscript. T.C., X.H., C.Z., J.H., G.X., S.Y. and M.G. revised the manuscript with all authors commenting on the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Changfei Zhu or Xiaojing Hao or Tao Chen.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–19, Notes 1–7, Tables 1–8 and refs. 1–9.

Reporting Summary

Source data

Source Data Fig. 1

Compressed folder containing source data for Fig. 1b–d,f,g.

Source Data Fig. 2

Compressed folder containing source data for Fig. 2b–g.

Source Data Fig. 3

Compressed folder containing source data for Fig. 3a–f.

Source Data Fig. 4

O-DLTS source data for Fig. 4.

Source Data Fig. 5

TA source data for Fig. 5.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Tang, R., Wang, X., Lian, W. et al. Hydrothermal deposition of antimony selenosulfide thin films enables solar cells with 10% efficiency. Nat Energy 5, 587–595 (2020).

Download citation

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing