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Oxide Based Solar Cells


Development of Oxide Based Low Cost Thin Film Solar Cells

Tech Area / Field

  • NNE-SOL/Solar Energy/Non-Nuclear Energy
  • MAT-SYN/Materials Synthesis and Processing/Materials

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
The Russian-Armenian State University, Armenia, Yerevan


  • Volumion Energy Powersystems, France, Mundolsheim\nENEA, Italy, Rome\nCNRS / Centre Interdisciplinare de Nanoscience de Marseille, France, Marseille\nNational Renewable Energy Laboratory, USA, CO, Golden\nUniversity of Toronto / Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering / Energenius Centre for Advanced Nanotechnology, Canada, ON, Toronto

Project summary

The energy of sunlight is already recognized as an essential component of renewable energy resources. This recognition is reflected in the world’s production of solar photovoltaic cells and modules that has been increasing at a rate of 30% per annual on average since 2000 and was as high as 512 MW/year in 2003. At the same time a cost of production has been continuously reducing. As production cost is reducing, solar electricity is surely becoming favorable in many fields of energy consumption, especially taking into account dramatic advance in oil prices. Further reducing of the cost is expected in the next decade as a result of designing next generation of photovoltaic solar cells. Next generation must be based on newly developed thin films and nano-size materials/technology and must combine low-cost production technologies.

The proposed project has goal to develop and research attractive low-cost thin film oxide/oxide heterojunctions based photovoltaic solar cells.

Among the potential photovoltaic devices based on semiconductor oxides as active layer is cuprous oxide (Cu2O). The theoretical energy conversion efficiency of Cu2O solar cell is about 20%. This oxide semiconductor shows many interesting characteristics useful for solar cells production such as low cost, nontoxicity, good mobilities, fairly high minority carrier diffusion length, high absorption coefficient and direct energy gap.

Although the theoretical limit of Cu2O solar cell efficiency is about 20%, the highest efficiency obtained up to now is only 2%. This is due to a very limited amount of work devoted to this semiconductor and only during last a few years this material has been investigated for solar cells applications. The optimization of Cu2O solar cell is slowed down by the lack of clear understanding of the electrical and crystalline structure properties of this material and defects arising on heterojunction, as well as limited technological methods applied up to now.

For further increase of solar cells efficiency based on oxide heterojunctions it is necessary to develop and research new technological methods that will provide high performance of active oxide layers, transparent conducting oxide layer and interface between this layers.

The realization of the project objectives will allow:

  • to develop actual different techniques for deposition of different single-crystal oxide films and their doping;
  • to develop optimal design of solar cells based on conductive oxide/semiconducting oxide heterojunction including interface buffer layer of nanoparticles;
  • to create low-cost high-performance solar cells based on oxide heterojunctions.

The present project supposes developing the sol-gel technology to produce different conductive oxide layers (ZnO:AL, SnO2, In2O3 and etc), active monocrystalline Cu2O layers, interface buffer layer of nanoparticles and interface buffer graded composition layer. This technological approach compared with applied up to now process of Cu2O films fabrication will allow to produce higher quality crystalline films of the designed structure and to reduce price and simplify the technology of oxide heterojunction solar cells production.

The project supposes also developing the pulsed laser deposition (PLD) of oxide and semiconductor films from a high density laser-plasma. Intercomparison of the results of PLD and sol-gel technological methods will allow to understand the processes of oxide films formation and to find the optimum technological approach for increase an efficiency of oxide heterojunction solar cells.

The main objective of the present project is to develop new low-cost simplified thin film technological process and produce transparent conducting oxide/semiconducting oxide and transparent conducting oxide/semiconductor heterojunctions for high efficiency solar cells and thermal energy converters applications.


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