Ferroelectric solar cells for Terra Watt electricity generation

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Physics

Abstract

Electricity generation on a large Tera Watt scale requires solar cells that consist of abundant, non-toxic and cheap materials. Materials selection has been inspired by geological minerals, such as Cu2ZnSnS4 (CZTS) and Sb2Se3. CZTS in particular has received widespread attention. Despite this the maximum efficiency is only 12.6%, significantly below the 20% threshold required for commercial viability. In this project we look to Nature for alternative solutions, this time in the form of ferroelectric minerals, such as enargite (Cu2AsS4) and bournonite (CuPbSbS3). Uniquely these materials possess an internal electric field, which can be exploited to enhance the electric current extracted from a solar cell. The potential for photoferroic minerals has been highlighted in a recent theoretical study, although there are as yet no experimental reports on devices. This project is a unique opportunity to carry out and learn from the device growth and characterisation expertise at both Durham and Northumbria. It will provide the student a comprehensive training programme in solar cell research, ranging from material synthesis, device electrical testing to materials characterisation using electron microscopy (SEM, TEM, cathodoluminescence).

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S023836/1 01/04/2019 30/09/2027
2214063 Studentship EP/S023836/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Oliver Rigby