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New photovoltaic materials from systematic mineralogy (PV-mineralogy)

The drive to discover highly efficient, yet cost effective semiconductors for thin-film solar cell applications has led to extensive investigations seeking to establish the suitability of various materials. This project involved the fast screening of one set of candidate minerals, sulphide ore minerals, with respect to identifying their photovoltaic (PV) properties.

Chalcogenide compound semiconductors (e.g. CdTe and CuInSe2) are known to be the actual candidates for thin film solar cell applications, and are currently used in these applications. These compounds do not, however, completely and optimally fulfil the economic and ecological characteristics required for their widespread application. A further 500 naturally occurring chalcogenide compounds, the so-called sulphide ore minerals have been identified and described by mineralogists, as a source of potentially better, or at least alternative, PV candidates. These minerals have thus been selected for further investigation during this project, mainly because; the existing chalcogenide semiconductors in PV applications are members of this group; there is some existing mineralogy data for this group; these compounds are known to be stable and there is no necessity for crystal preparation. A strongly interdisciplinary approach has been adopted in this project which brings together specialists from PV research and physics and mineralogists working in the field of sulphide ore minerals to screen this natural reservoir for PV applicability. The main goal of the project was to select possible candidates for thin-film solar cells from the group of sulphide ore minerals, which can then be transferred in subsequent research to a thin-film preparation on a laboratory scale for further investigations.

Reported by

ZSW - Zentrum fur Sonnenenergie und Wasserstoff-Forschung
Hessbrühlstrasse 21C RES_OG_PCD 70565
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