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Comparison and optimisation of efficiencies of thin-film solar cells

One of the main challenges facing the solar industry is to find the most promising combinations of semi-conductor materials for the efficient, reliable and cost-effective production of photo-voltaic (PV) power. Using semi-conductor theory, the thermodynamically based model developed during this project has enabled the theoretical investigation of semi-conductor materials and the identification of suitable material combinations.

Achieving cost effectiveness, efficiency and stability are the three main priorities in the manufacture of thin-film solar cells. The film and the base of solar cells are, in general, made of different semi-conductor materials. Various combinations of semi-conductor materials and bases have been considered in past investigations and one of the aims of this project was to focus on these and related materials, in order to find the combinations of greatest promise from the efficiency point of view, provided that other manufacturing criteria, including raw material availability, processing cost and device stability are met. This project dealt with semi-conductor theory and sought to obtain a reasonably complete thermodynamically based model for the maximum theoretical efficiency of thin-film solar cells. The most promising combinations of semi-conductor materials for efficient, reliable and cost-effective PV power production were theoretically investigated using the model, as were the effects of impact ionisation and Auger recombination.

Reported by

University of Southampton
Highfield RES_OG_PCD SO9 5NH
United Kingdom
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