A scalable and inexpensive renewable energy source is needed to meet the expected increase in electricity demand throughout the developed and developing world in the next 15 years without contributing further to global warming through CO2 emissions. Photovoltaics may meet this need but current technologies are less than ideal requiring complex manufacturing processes and/or use of toxic, rare-earth materials. Copper zinc tin sulfide (Cu2ZnSnS4, CZTS) solar cells offer a true "green" alternative based upon non-toxic and abundant elements. Solution-based processes utilizing CZTS nanocrystal dispersions followed by high temperature annealing have received significant research attention due to their compatibility with traditional roll-to-roll coating processes. In this work, CZTS nanocrystal (5 – 35 nm diameters) dispersions were utilized as a production pathway to form solar absorber layers. Aerosol-based coating methods (aerosol jet printing and ultrasonic spray coating) were optimized for formation of dense, crack-free CZTS nanocrystal coatings. The primary variables underlying determination of coating morphology within the aerosol-coating parameter space were investigated. It was found that the liquid content of the aerosol droplets at the time of substrate impingement play a critical role. Evaporation of the liquid from the aerosol droplets during coating was altered through changes to coating parameters as well as to the CZTS nanocrystal dispersions. In addition, factors influencing conversion of CZTS nanocrystal coatings into dense, large-grained polycrystalline films suitable for solar cell development during thermal annealing were studied. The roles nanocrystal size, carbon content, sodium uptake, and sulfur pressure were found to have pivotal roles in film microstructure evolution. The effects of these parameters on film morphology, grain growth rates, and chemical makeup were analyzed from electron microscopy images as well as compositional analysis techniques. From these results, a deeper understanding of the interplay between the numerous annealing variables was achieved and improved annealing processes were developed.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation.June 2016. Major: Chemical Engineering. Advisors: Eray Aydil, Lorraine Francis. 1 computer file (PDF); xviii, 170 pages.
Processing of Copper Zinc Tin Sulfide Nanocrystal Dispersions for Thin Film Solar Cells.
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