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Two-Dimensional Transition Metal Dichalcogenides for Ultrathin Solar Cells

Citation

Went, Cora Margaret (2022) Two-Dimensional Transition Metal Dichalcogenides for Ultrathin Solar Cells. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/xrxk-3q08. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechTHESIS:04082022-171550192

Abstract

Ultrathin solar cells, with absorber layers less than one micron thick, have the potential to use orders of magnitude less high-quality semiconducting material than current silicon solar cells. This could be advantageous in applications that require high power output per unit weight, such as vehicle-integrated photovoltaics, or where reducing the capital cost of solar cell manufacturing is important. Transition metal dichalcogenides are a promising candidate for the semiconducting absorber layer of ultrathin solar cells due to their intrinsically passivated surfaces and their high absorption per unit thickness.

This thesis explores two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides for ultrathin photovoltaics. We start with the simplest type of solar cell, which collects carriers via a Schottky junction formed by sandwiching the absorber layer between two metal contacts with different work functions. To enable this geometry and avoid Fermi-level pinning, we develop a new process for gently transferring van der Waals metal contacts onto transition metal dichalcogenides. We measure an open-circuit voltage of 250 mV and a power conversion efficiency of 0.5% in Schottky-junction solar cells. To improve upon this efficiency, we next make carrier-selective contact solar cells, which employ wide bandgap semiconductors to selectively collect electrons on one side and holes on the other side of the absorber layer. We measure an open-circuit voltage of 520 mV and a power conversion efficiency greater than 2% in devices based on perovskite solar cell geometries, with PTAA and C60 as selective contact layers. We demonstrate that short carrier lifetimes limit the voltage in these solar cells to 750 mV, well below the detailed balance voltage limit. This motivates a more thorough understanding of the carrier dynamics at play, and we use a new pump-probe optical microscopy technique, stroboSCAT, to spatiotemporally track heat and carrier evolution in transition metal dichalcogenides. When paired with a kinetic model, we show that this technique can be used to measure lifetimes and other important material parameters even in materials with low radiative efficiencies.

We conclude by outlining future research directions towards achieving power conversion efficiencies greater than 10% in transition metal dichalcogenide solar cells.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:photovoltaics, solar cell, transition metal dichalcogenides, two-dimensional, van der Waals
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Awards:Graduate Deans’ Award, 2022. John Stager Stemple Memorial Prize in Physics, 2020. France A. Córdova Graduate Student Fund - Tombrello Scholar, 2018.
Thesis Availability:Restricted to Caltech community only
Research Advisor(s):
  • Atwater, Harry Albert
Thesis Committee:
  • Hsieh, David (chair)
  • Yeh, Nai-Chang
  • Refael, Gil
  • Atwater, Harry Albert
Defense Date:31 March 2022
Non-Caltech Author Email:cora.went (AT) gmail.com
Funders:
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSF1745301
Resnick Sustainability InstituteN/A
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-SC0019140
ARPA-EDE-AR0001407
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:04082022-171550192
Persistent URL:https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechTHESIS:04082022-171550192
DOI:10.7907/xrxk-3q08
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aax6061DOIArticle adapted for Ch. 2
https://doi.org/10.1021/acsami.1c11122Related DocumentAdditional published content related to this thesis
https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpcc.0c04719Related DocumentAdditional published content related to this thesis
https://doi.org/10.1021/acsnano.9b05550Related DocumentAdditional published content related to this thesis
https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b03876Related DocumentAdditional published content related to this thesis
https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b02035Related DocumentAdditional published content related to this thesis
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-018-0075-8Related DocumentAdditional published content related to this thesis
ORCID:
AuthorORCID
Went, Cora Margaret0000-0001-7737-3348
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:14543
Collection:CaltechTHESIS
Deposited By: Cora Went
Deposited On:10 May 2022 23:53
Last Modified:03 Aug 2022 23:58

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