Open Access Nano Express

Si solid-state quantum dot-based materials for tandem solar cells

Gavin Conibeer*, Ivan Perez-Wurfl, Xiaojing Hao, Dawei Di and Dong Lin

Author Affiliations

ARC Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:193  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-193

Published: 21 March 2012

Abstract

The concept of third-generation photovoltaics is to significantly increase device efficiencies whilst still using thin-film processes and abundant non-toxic materials. A strong potential approach is to fabricate tandem cells using thin-film deposition that can optimise collection of energy in a series of cells with decreasing band gap stacked on top of each other. Quantum dot materials, in which Si quantum dots (QDs) are embedded in a dielectric matrix, offer the potential to tune the effective band gap, through quantum confinement, and allow fabrication of optimised tandem solar cell devices in one growth run in a thin-film process. Such cells can be fabricated by sputtering of thin layers of silicon rich oxide sandwiched between a stoichiometric oxide that on annealing crystallise to form Si QDs of uniform and controllable size. For approximately 2-nm diameter QDs, these result in an effective band gap of 1.8 eV. Introduction of phosphorous or boron during the growth of the multilayers results in doping and a rectifying junction, which demonstrates photovoltaic behaviour with an open circuit voltage (VOC) of almost 500 mV. However, the doping behaviour of P and B in these QD materials is not well understood. A modified modulation doping model for the doping mechanisms in these materials is discussed which relies on doping of a sub-oxide region around the Si QDs.

Keywords:
band gap engineering; quantum dots; photovoltaics; tandem cells; modulation doping; nucleation; third generation