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Nano Lett. 2009 Mar;9(3):1235-41. doi: 10.1021/nl9001469.

Hybrid photovoltaics based on semiconductor nanocrystals and amorphous silicon.

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  • 1Chemistry Division, Materials Physics & Applications Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545, USA.


Semiconductor nanocrystals (NCs) are promising materials for applications in photovoltaic (PV) structures that could benefit from size-controlled tunability of absorption spectra, the ease of realization of various tandem architectures, and, perhaps, increased conversion efficiency in the ultraviolet region through carrier multiplication. The first practical step toward utilization of the unique properties of NCs in PV technologies could be through their integration into traditional silicon-based solar cells. Here, we demonstrate an example of such hybrid PV structures that combine colloidal NCs with amorphous silicon. In these structures, NCs and silicon are electronically coupled, and the regime of this coupling can be tuned by altering the alignment of NC energy states with regard to silicon band edges. For example, using wide-gap CdSe NCs we demonstrate a photoresponse which is exclusively due to the NCs. On the other hand, in devices comprising narrow-gap PbS NCs, both the NCs and silicon contribute to photocurrent, which results in PV response extending from the visible to the near-infrared region. The hybrid silicon/PbS NC solar cells show external quantum efficiencies of approximately 7% at infrared energies and 50% in the visible and a power conversion efficiency of up to 0.9%. This work demonstrates the feasibility of hybrid PV devices that combine advantages of mature silicon fabrication technologies with the unique electronic properties of semiconductor NCs.

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