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Enhanced Thin Film Solar

Sandia National Laboratories

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Publications:

PDF Document Publication
Market Sheet
(257 KB)

Conceptional stack of layers with grown crystals inside patterned<br type="_moz" />
Conceptional stack of layers with grown crystals inside patterned

SEM of the CdTE/CdS patterned growth showing isolated and indexed CdTe grames. (left) Cross-sectional SEM of two isolated CdTe/CdS microcells. (right)<br type="_moz" />
SEM of the CdTE/CdS patterned growth showing isolated and indexed CdTe grames. (left) Cross-sectional SEM of two isolated CdTe/CdS microcells. (right)

Technology Marketing Summary

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) cells are inexpensive to manufacture, however, they suffer from low module efficiencies due to high defect densities. Most of the recent research has been focused on the passivation of defects rather than the elimination. Sandia researchers have developed a method to eliminate these defects and improve efficiency of CdTe PV cells, potentially reducing the overall cost of these modules.

Description

Sandia’s Enhanced Thin Film Solar utilizes a nano-patterned substrate layer between n-type and p-type semiconductor layers. The nano-islands (<90 nm) constructed in the patterned substrate promotes uniform grain growth and reduces lattice stress—resulting in fewer defects. By using graded ZnxCd(1-x)Te, the bandgap is optimized, allowing an additional avenue for increased efficiency due to localization of absorption and directed electrical fields. The resulting thin film solar cells achieve higher uniformity, better lattice matching, reduced defects, increased current, and better contact. The improved efficiency will reduce of balance of system costs and make solar power more competitive.

Benefits
  • Improved efficiency (estimated at a 20% increase)
  • Improved current funneling & light trapping
  • Increased current
  • Reduction in material defects
Applications and Industries
  • Solar
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Date
Patent 9,472,702
Patent
9,472,702
Photovoltaic cell with nano-patterned substrate
A photovoltaic solar cell comprises a nano-patterned substrate layer. A plurality of nano-windows are etched into an intermediate substrate layer to form the nano-patterned substrate layer. The nano-patterned substrate layer is positioned between an n-type semiconductor layer composed of an n-type semiconductor material and a p-type semiconductor layer composed of a p-type semiconductor material. Semiconductor material accumulates in the plurality of nano-windows, causing a plurality of heterojunctions to form between the n-type semiconductor layer and the p-type semiconductor layer.
Sandia National Laboratories 10/18/2016
Issued
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
SD#12202Proposed - Sandia estimates this to be a Technology Readiness Level 3. Active research and development have been initiated.Available05/15/201705/15/2017

Contact SNL About This Technology

To: <ip@sandia.gov>