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Study of fluorine-doped tin oxide (FTO) thin films for photovoltaics applications

Abstract : With the increasing demand for energy that human beings are faced with, the photovoltaics (PV) technology which converts solar radiation into electricity has undergone increasingly development. Although the current PV market is mainly dominated by the crystalline Si based technologies, thin film PV still bears the hope to become the solution to the energy crisis in the future due to its much lower cost and reasonable efficiency.Transparent conductive materials (TCMs), mostly transparent conductive oxides (TCOs), are an essential component in most types of thin film solar cells as the current-collecting electrode on the sun-facing side of the cell. In order to improve the optical absorption (which is restricted by the limited absorber thickness) in thin film solar cells, the TCOs are often desired to be textured (with significant surface roughness) to show high values of haze factor. Haze factor is defined as the ratio of the diffuse transmittance/reflectance to the total transmittance/reflectance. The hazier a TCO is (i.e. with higher haze factor), the more light it scatters. As a consequence, the optical path length is increased and thus the light trapping in the solar cell is improved, giving rise to higher light absorption in the active layers and photon-to-current conversion efficiency of the solar cells.In this work, innovative nanocomposites of fluorine doped SnO2 (FTO) in combination with ZnO, S:TiO2 and Al2O3 nanoparticles have been developed using an economic and facile 2-step process. These FTO nanocomposites exhibit 70-80% total transmittance and 10-15 Ohm/sq sheet resistance, satisfying the basic requirements as transparent conductive oxides used in photovoltaics devices. By changing the nanoparticle suspension concentration, the haze factor of these nanocomposites can be varied, in a controlled way, from almost 0% up to 80%. The morphological, structural, electrical, and optical properties of these FTO nanocomposites are investigated in great details and are found to be closely related to the underlying nanoparticles. Before discussing the integration of the FTO nanocomposites into real solar cell devices, efforts have also been made to shed some light on the understanding of FTO/TiO2 interface commonly adopted in various types of emerging thin film solar cells such as dye sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). Finally, the hazy FTO nanocomposites have been used as transparent electrodes in different types of thin film solar cells and the effect of haze factor on the device performance has been examined.By properly tuning the type and concentration of the underlying nanoparticles, the properties of the FTO nanocomposites can be tuned to meet the electrode requirement for specific photovoltaic technology. Our concept of preparing TCO nanocomposite by combining TCOs and nanoparticles provides a general guideline to design hazy electrodes as light management structures in thin film photovoltaics.
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Shanting Zhang. Study of fluorine-doped tin oxide (FTO) thin films for photovoltaics applications. Materials. Technische Universität (Darmstadt, Allemagne), 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017GREAI021⟩. ⟨tel-01689976⟩

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