The Kesterite solar cell group at UNSW has received a funding grant from ARENA to develop cost-effective, high-efficiency kesterite thin-film solar cells.
Kesterites offer a realistic option for the PV industry beyond Si-based technologies. Kesterites are made from low-toxicity metals (Cu, Zn and Sn) which are abundant in the earth’s crust, ensuring a secure long-term materials supply. Kesterites also offer a realistic potential to achieve the efficiency levels required for transferring lab-scale processes to commercialisation in the short time as being fully compatible with current Cu(In,Ga)Se 2 (CIGS) production lines. Using kesterite materials less than two micron-thick, cells can be flexible and integrated into buildings (BIPV) as well as in electric vehicles, harvesting light and reducing greenhouse emissions.
How the project works
In this study, we target a challenging solar cell efficiency of 20% by the optimization of the kesterite materials formation process, as well as the device architectures and interfaces.
Building on UNSW’s successful experience and expertise in high bandgap pure sulphide kesterite (CZTS) solar cells, this study will look at applying the technologies developed for these world record CZTS cells to selenium-containing kesterite. Optimisation of the identified areas that are currently far from optimised is also planned.
One of the key outcomes targeted for the project is to make this low-cost, low-toxic and stable kesterite (CZTSSe) efficient enough for distributed PV market use (such as for BIPV, automotive and portable power sources).
Area of innovation
Being a promising light harvesting material, the energy conversion efficiency of CZTSSe has however been stagnant at 12.6% for years. This project will tackle the most urgent research challenges and allow the demonstration of high-efficiency PV technology, with innovation extending from scientific fundamental to the key technological milestones for new world record lab CZTSSe solar cells, bringing these cells to the next-stage of production.
This project will increase knowledge of thin film solar cells applications (such as for BIPV, solar powered electric car, portable power sources) by using cheap and low-toxicity materials. This project will extend Australia’s leadership to the whole family of kesterite solar cells and contribute to reducing the cost of solar PV deployment.