A key driver for the widespread adoption of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells is the cost per Watt ($/W). Reducing the $/W is achieved by lowering the cost of production, and increasing the efficiency of the cells.
First generation crystalline silicon wafer technology is limited by the cost of production when compared to its contemporary rival, thin film solar cells. Thin film PV cells have a greatly reduced amount of material per unit area, and forms of the technology like copper-zinc-tin-sulfide (CZTS) are able to be made relatively cheaply from abundant materials. The commercial potential of these second generation cells rests on increasing the efficiency to rival silicon wafer technology, thereby reducing the $/W.
Exciting advancements are being made in the development of CZTS PV cells. By carefully controlling and studying the synthesis of the thin films employed in these cells, a greater understanding of the materials physical properties is gained, and importantly, how to manipulate them to improve performance.
Furthermore, these PV cells are lightweight, and can be engineered to be flexible and/or transparent. This creates a vast number of potential ways that they may be designed into the products and structures of the future, making this an exciting multidisciplinary field of research.
Funding / Grants
- Queensland Government