EU funding strengthens solar cell research at HZB

Ultra-high vacuum system in the Energy Materials In-Situ Lab (EMIL) that will combine industry-relevant deposition tools with a suite of complementary advanced characterization methods.

Ultra-high vacuum system in the Energy Materials In-Situ Lab (EMIL) that will combine industry-relevant deposition tools with a suite of complementary advanced characterization methods. © R.G. Wilks

Marcus Bär and his team are participating in two international projects being funded under the EU Horizon 2020 research programme. Both research projects are concerned with development and optimisation of high-efficiency thin-film solar cells based on chalcopyrites (“Sharc 25") and kesterites (“SWInG”). These two projects will together bring in about 900,000 EUR of additional research funding for solar cell research.

The two projects, Sharc25 and SWInG, will be funded under the EU’s Low-Carbon Energy section. “The advanced material characterisation at HZB will focus on the interface characteristics of solar cell structures. Particularly, the complementarity of the suite of instruments at the newly established EMIL lab at BESSY II will benefit this research”, explains Prof. Marcus Bär, who heads the Young Investigator Group - Interface Design at HZB.

“Sharc25" stands for “Super High-Efficiency Cu(In,Ga)Se2 Thin-Film Solar Cells Approaching 25%”. The project will focus on pushing the performance of Cu(In,Ga)Se2 (CIGSe) thin-film solar cells towards 25 % conversion efficiency, which is considerably higher than the efficiency of market-dominating polycrystalline silicon cells. Achieving this level of efficiency would provide a significant competitive advantage for the European thin film PV industry. The research project will be coordinated by the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) and involves research partners from seven European countries. The project funding is 6.15 million EUR in total, of which 450,000 EUR is allocated to HZB. “We will be systematically investigating the layer stacks, particularly focusing on understanding the properties and processes at the interfaces. Optimising the interface behaviour is a fundamental prerequisite for driving the efficiency towards its theoretical limit”, says Bär.

SWInG (Development of Thin-Film Solar Cells based on Wide Band-Gap Kesterite Absorbers) is to receive 3.8 million EUR and will be coordinated by imec (Interuniversity Micro-Electronics Centre/Belgium) and includes partners from the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Sweden. 450,000 EUR are allocated to HZB. The objective of the research is to develop inexpensive, dependable tandem solar cells that have the potential of converting more than 30% of sunlight into electricity. The wide band-gap solar cell absorbers necessary for this will be achieved by modifying the composition of the kesterite. “Kesterite absorber layers are desirable, because they consist of Earth-abundant elements. In addition, the band gap can be adjusted by varying the composition of the material, matching it to the requirements of the tandem solar cell”, explains Bär.


You might also be interested in

  • Unconventional piezoelectricity in ferroelectric hafnia
    Science Highlight
    Unconventional piezoelectricity in ferroelectric hafnia
    Hafnium oxide thin films are a fascinating class of materials with robust ferroelectric properties in the nanometre range. While the ferroelectric behaviour is extensively studied, results on piezoelectric effects have so far remained mysterious. A new study now shows that the piezoelectricity in ferroelectric Hf0.5Zr0.5O2 thin films can be dynamically changed by electric field cycling. Another ground-breaking result is a possible occurrence of an intrinsic non-piezoelectric ferroelectric compound. These unconventional features in hafnia offer new options for use in microelectronics and information technology.
  • 14 parameters in one go: New instrument for optoelectronics
    Science Highlight
    14 parameters in one go: New instrument for optoelectronics
    An HZB physicist has developed a new method for the comprehensive characterisation of semiconductors in a single measurement. The "Constant Light-Induced Magneto-Transport (CLIMAT)" is based on the Hall effect and allows to record 14 different parameters of transport properties of negative and positive charge carriers. The method was tested now on twelve different semiconductor materials and will save valuable time in assessing new materials for optoelectronic applications such as solar cells.
  • Sodium-ion batteries: How doping works
    Science Highlight
    Sodium-ion batteries: How doping works
    Sodium-ion batteries still have a number of weaknesses that could be remedied by optimising the battery materials. One possibility is to dope the cathode material with foreign elements. A team from HZB and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin has now investigated the effects of doping with Scandium and Magnesium. The scientists collected data at the X-ray sources BESSY II, PETRA III, and SOLARIS to get a complete picture and uncovered two competing mechanisms that determine the stability of the cathodes.