Historic Developments, Current Technologies and Potential of Nanotechnology to Develop Next Generation Solar Cells with Improved Efficiency

Nisith Raval -  Centre of Excellence in Nanotechnology (CoE-NT), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), CII House, Gulbai Tekra Road Near Panchavati, Ahmedabad - 380006. Gujarat, India
*Ajay Kumar Gupta -  Centre of Excellence in Nanotechnology (CoE-NT), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), CII House, Gulbai Tekra Road Near Panchavati, Ahmedabad - 380006. Gujarat, India
Published: 15 Jul 2015.
Open Access
Citation Format:
Article Info
Section: Original Research Article
Language: EN
Full Text:
Statistics: 1053 1408
Abstract
Sun is the continuous source of renewable energy, from where we can get abundant of solar energy. Concept of conversionof solar energy into heat was used back in 200 B.C. since then, the solar cells have been developed which can convert solar energy into theelectrical energy and these systems have been produced commercially. The technologies to enhance the power conversion efficiency (PCE)have been continuously improved. Different technologies used for developing solar cells can be categorized either on the basis of materialused or techniques of technology development which is further termed as ‘first generation’ (e.g. crystalline silicon), ‘second generation’(thin films of Amorphous silicon, Copper indium gallium selenide, Cadmium telluride), ‘Third generation’ (Concentrated, Organic and Dyesensitize solar cell). These technologies give PCE up to 25% depending on the technology and the materials used. Nanotechnology enablesthe use of nanomaterial whose size is below 100 nm with extraordinary properties which has the capability to enhance the PCE to greaterextent. Various nanomaterials like Quantum Dots, Quantum well, carbon nanotubes, Nanowire and graphene have been used to makeefficient and economical solar cells, which not only provide high conversion efficiency economically but also are easy to produce. Today,by using nanotechnology, conversion efficiency up to 44.7 % has been achieved by Fraunhofer Institute at Germany. In this review article,we have reviewed the literature including various patents and publications, summarized the history of solar cell development, developmentof different technologies and rationale of their development highlighting the advantages and challenges involved in their development forcommercial purpose. We have also included the recent developments in solar cell research where different nanomaterials have beendesigned and used successfully to prove their superiority over conventional systems.

Article Metrics:

  1. Abdin et al. (2013) Solar energy harvesting with the application of nanotechnology, Renewable and sustainable energy reviews, 26, 837-852.
  2. Affordable Solar (2015), http://www.affordable-solar.com/ Learning -Center/Solar-Basics/ solar-history; (Accessed: 5 February 2015).
  3. Alexandre F. (2000), Multi-quantum well tandem solar cell, (Patent application US6147296A).
  4. Anas I.A.T. (2007), Amorphous silicon based solar cells, PhD thesis, University of stuttgart
  5. Ankur G., Manvendra V. & Pratibha S. (2014) Single junction a-Si:H solar cell with a-Si:H/nc-Si:H/a-Si:H quantum wells, Thin solid films, 550, 643–648.
  6. Anna L., Zhi Z., Linan Z. & Marilyn W. (2013) Method for enhancing the conversion efficiency of CdSe-quantum dot sensitized solar cells, (Patent application EP2442326A3).
  7. Anthony M., Ross H. & Ravi S. (2006) Interpenetrating multiwall carbon nanotube electrodes for organic solar cells, Applied Physics Letter, 89, 117-133.
  8. Anthony M., Ross H. & Ravi S. (2006) Interpenetrating multiwall carbon nanotube electrodes for organic solar cells, Applied Physics Letter, 89-95
  9. Anuradha T., Lovish J. & Pranjal B. (2013) Solar energy - finding new ways, International journal of research in advent technology, 4, 1-6.
  10. Aswani Y. et al. (2014) Porphyrin-sensitized solar cells with cobalt (ii/iii)–based redox electrolyte exceed 12 percent efficiency, Science, 334, 605, 629-634.
  11. Bastiaan K, Loucas T, (2011), Nanowires in thin-film silicon solar cells, (Patent application US7893348B2).
  12. Benjamin Y. & Peidong Y. (2009) Nanowire-Based All-Oxide Solar Cells, Journal of American Chemical Society. 131, 3756–3761.
  13. Brian L. et al. (2005), Single-wall carbon nanotube–polymer solar cells, Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, 13, 2, 165–172.
  14. Bulent B., Burak M. & Richard S. (2010) Conductive grids for solar cells, (Patent application US20100089447A1).
  15. Cai J., Chen T. & Peng S. (2010) All carbon nanotube fiber electrode based dye sensitize photovoiltaic wire, journal of material chemistry, 22, 30, 14856-14860.
  16. Capassoa A. et al. (2014), Multi-wall carbon nanotube coating of fluorine-doped tin oxide as an electrode surface modifier for polymer solar cells, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 122, 297–202.
  17. Chang C. & Yue Ma. (2010), Increasing solar cell efficiency with silver nanowires, (Patent application US20100129949A1).
  18. Chen T. et al (2012) light weigh, ultrastrong and semiconductive carbon nanotube fibres for highly efficient solar cells, Angewandte chemie interational edition; 50, 8, 1815-1819
  19. Cheng X. et al. (2013) Preparation and characterization of palladium nano-crystallite decorated TiO2 nano-tubes photoelectrode and its enhanced photocatalytic efficiency for degradation of diclofenac, Journal of hazard mater, 8, 254-255.
  20. Cheng X. et al. (2013) Preparation and characterization of palladium nano-crystallite decorated TiO₂ nano-tubes photoelectrode and its enhanced photocatalytic efficiency for degradation of diclofenac, Journal of Hazard Material, 254, 255, 141-148.
  21. Chunhui I. et al (2013) zno nanoparticle based highly efficient cds/cdse quantum dot-sensitized solar cells, Chemical Physics., 15, 8710-8715.
  22. Daniel B. & Darren L. (2013) Green chemistry for organic solar cells, Energy Environ, Science, 6, 2053–2066.
  23. Daniel D., Rodney R. & Christopher B. (2010), From Conception to Realization: An Historial Account of Graphene and Some Perspectives for Its Future, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 49, 9336 – 9345.
  24. Derkacs D. et al (2008) Nanoparticle-induced light scattering for improved performance of quantum-well solar cells, Applied physics letters, 93; 91-107.
  25. Effie J. COSMOS (2013) http://cosmos.ucdavis.edu/archives/2013 /cluster8/jia_effie.pdf; (Accessed: 20 October 2015)
  26. Ekins-daukes N. et al. (2010), Nanodome Solar Cells with Efficient Light Management and Self-Cleaning, Nano Letter, 10; 1979–1984.
  27. Ekins-Daukes N. et al. (2013) Controlling radiative loss in quantum well solar cells, Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, 46, 26, 264007
  28. EPIA- Europian Photovoltaic Industry Association (2011). http://www.epia.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/Competing_Full_Report.pdf; (Accessed: 5 February 2015).
  29. Erik G. & Peidong Y. (2010) Light trapping in silicon nanowire solar cells, Nano letter, 10, 3, 1082–1087.
  30. Experience (2015), https://www.experience.com/ alumnus/article? channel_id=energy_utilities&source_page=additional_articles&article_id=article_1130427780670; (Accessed: 15 February 2015)
  31. Fei L., Siguang M. & Kang W., (2007), Carbon nanotube/nanowire thermo-photovoltaic cell, (Patent application US20070235076A1).
  32. Fraunhofer Institute for solar energy System ISE (2014), Photovoltaic Report,http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/de/downloads/pdffiles/aktuelles/ photovoltaics-report-in-englischer-sprache.pdf; (Accessed: 5 February 2015)
  33. Georg P., Enrico S. & Yoann J. (2012) Silicon Quantum Dots for Photovoltaics: A Review, Quantum Dots - A Variety of New Applications, (ed Ameenah Al-A) pp 10-22 In Tech.
  34. Gizma (2015) http://www.gizmag.com/graphene-solar-cell-record-efficiency/30466/; (Accessed: 5th February 2015)
  35. Green A et al. (2011) Solar efficiency tables (version 35), Progress in photovoltaics: Research and applications, 18, 144-150.
  36. Green tech media (2009) http://www.greentechmedia.com/ articles /read/amorphous-silicon-solar-losing-the-shakeout; (Accessed: 5 February 2015).
  37. Hiroaki T. (2011) Method for manufacturing quantum dot-sensitized solar cell electrode, quantum dot-sensitized solar cell electrode and quantum dot-sensitized solar cell, (Patent application US20110146772),
  38. Hong S., Shu S. & Ching L. (2012) Silicon nanowire/organic hybrid solar cell with efficiency of 8.40%, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 98, 267–72.
  39. Howard W & Hoon L (2008), Quantum dots of group IV semiconductor materials, (Patent application US7402832B2).
  40. IDTechEx 2009-2029 market report (2009), http://www. idtechex.com/research/reports/printed_and_thin_film _transistors _and_memory_2009_2029_000221.asp, (Accessed: on 5 February 2015).
  41. International Energy Agency (IEA), Energy Technology Systems Analysis Programme (ETSAP) (2013), http://www.irena.org/DocumentDownloads/ Publications/IRENA-ETSAP%20Tech%20Brief%20E11%20Solar%20PV.pdf; (Accessed: 5 February 2015)
  42. IRENA - International Renewable Energy Agency (2013) http://www.irena.org/DocumentDownloads/Publications/ IRENAETSAP%20Tech%20Brief%20E10%20Concentrating%20Solar%20Power.pdf; (Accessed: 5 February 2015).
  43. IRENA - International Renewable Energy Agency, Renewable energy technologies: cost analysis series (2012), 45.
  44. Istvan R. et al (2006) Quantum dot solar cells. Harvesting light energy with cdse nanocrystals molecularly linked to mesoscopic tio2 films, Journal of American Chemical Society, 128, 7, 2385–2393.
  45. Jason L. & Xiaomei J. (2013) Electric field tuning of PbS quantum dots for high efficiency solar cell application, (Patent application US8574685B1).
  46. Jin J., et al (2013) Optimal design for antireflective Si nanowire solar cells, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 112, 84–90
  47. Jiun C., Shu S. & Ching L. (2012), GaAs nanowire/poly(3,4thylene dioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate) hybrid solar cells with incorporating electron blocking poly(3-hexylthiophene) layer, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells,105, 40–45
  48. Juneui J., Jihyun M. & Sangwoo L. (2010) Effects of ZnO nanowire synthesis parameters on the photovoltaic performance of dye-sensitized solar cells, Thin solid films, 520, 17, 5779–5789
  49. Kai Z. et al (2007) Enhanced charge-collection efficiencies and light scattering in dye-sensitized solar cells using oriented tio2 nanotubes arrays, Nano letter, 7, 1, 69–74.
  50. Keith B, (1996) Concentrator solar cell having a multi-quantum well system in the depletion region of the cell, (Patent application US5496415A).
  51. Keith B. et al (1997) Quantum well solar cells, Applied Surface Science, 113, 14, 722-733.
  52. Kenneth Z & Paul H. (1982) Basic Photovoltaic principles and methods Solar Energy Research Institute, Technology and Engineering, 249.
  53. Kiyoshige (2013) Kojima, Photoelectrode using carbon nano-tube, (Patent application JP2013118127).
  54. Koch W et al (2011) Handbook of photovoltaic science and engineering, (eds Antonio L & Steven H) pp 241-65, Wiley, England.
  55. Kun-Ping H. (2014) Quantum dot thin film solar cell, (Patent application US8658889).
  56. Kyung-Sang C. & Byung-ki K. (2011) Energy conversion film and quantum dot film comprising quantum dot compound, energy conversion layer including the quantum dot film, and solar cell including the energy conversion layer, (Patent number US8072039).
  57. Lars S., Martin M. &Federico C., (2009), Nanowire-based solar cell structure, (Patent application WO2008156421A3).
  58. Leonard P & Jeeseong H, (2012) Precision quantum dot clusters, (Patent number US20120132891)
  59. Liang W., Ilyas M. & Masud B. (2013) Quantum efficiency of multiple quantum wells, (Patent application WO2014008412A3).
  60. Maciej S. et al (2011) Carbon nanotube transparent conductive layers for solar cells applications, Optica Applicata, 12, 2, 375-381.
  61. Maria J. (2013) Record Breaking Solar Cell Approaches 45% Efficiency; http://forceofthesun.com/record-breaking-solar-cell-approaches-45-efficiency. (Accessed: 5 February 2015).
  62. Markus H. (2013) Large-scale Roll-to-Roll Fabrication of Organic Solar Cells for Energy Production, PhD thesis, Technical University of Denmark.
  63. Mazzer M et al (2006) Progress in quantum well solar cells, Thin Solid Films, 76– 83.
  64. Michael c/o Stuttgart Technology Center Dürr, Gabriele c/o Stuttgart Technology Center Nelles, Akio Stuttgart Technology Center Yasuda (2005) Carbon nanotubes based solar cells, (Patent application EP1507298A1).
  65. Mihai M, Viorel-Georgel D, Cornel C, Mircea B & Bogdan-Catalin S (2010) Quantum dot solar cell, (Patent number US20100012168).
  66. Mihai M, Viorel-Georgel D, Cornel C, Mircea B & Bogdan-Catalin S, (2010), Quantum dot solar cell, (Patent number US20100012168).
  67. Ming-Way L (2013) Quantum-dot sensitized solar cell (Patent number US20130042906).
  68. Myung K. (2009) Understanding Organic Photovoltaic Cells: Electrode, Nanostructure, Reliability, and Performance, PhD thesis, University of Michigan.
  69. Neil D, Friedrich P, Timothy H, & James M, (2013) Quantum dot solar cell with quantum dot bandgap gradients (Patent number US8395042)
  70. Ning Li. et al (2013) Towards 15% energy conversion efficiency: a systematic study of the solution-processed organic tandem solar cells based on commercially available materials, Energy Environ. Science, 6, 3407-3413.
  71. Noufi R. & Zweibel K., (2006) High-efficiency CdTe and CIGS thin-film solar cells: highlights and challenges, IEEE 4th World Conference on Photovoltaic Energy Conversion (WCPEC-4) Waikoloa, Hawaii
  72. Physic world (2011) http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news /2011/sep/05/graphene-could-make-perfect-solar-cells; (Accessed: 5th February 2015)
  73. Prashant K. et al (2008) Quantum dot solar cells. Semiconductor nanocrystals as light harvesters, Journal of physical chemistry C, 112, 48, 18737–18753.
  74. Qifeng Z., et al (2012) Oxide nanowires for solar cell applications, Nanoscale, 4; 1436–1445
  75. Ramesh L. et al (2013) GaSb/InGaAs quantum dot–well hybrid structure active regions in solar cells, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 1, 14, 165–171.
  76. Ranga A., Christopher B., Claire C., Bhaskar K., Omkaram N., Srikant R., Gaurav S., Sanjayan S, Kaushal S. & Robert V., (2012) High efficiency solar cell device with gallium arsenide absorber layer, (Patent application WO2012044978A3).
  77. Rault, F & Zahed, A, Monash University’s (2003). http://solar.org.au/papers/03papers/Rault.pdf; (Accessed: 21 October 2015).
  78. Razykov T. et al (2011) Solar photovoltaic electricity: Current status and future prospects, Solar Energy, 85, 1580–1608.
  79. Robert C. & Vasilis F. (2012) Third generation photovoltaics, (ed Vasilis F) pp 167-182, In Tech.
  80. Robert P. et al (2012) Quantum dot sensitization of organic− inorganic hybrid solar cells, Journal of physical chemistry B, 106, 31, 7578–7580.
  81. Robert S. & William W., (2011), Disordered Nanowire Solar Cell, (Patent application US20110083728A1).
  82. Roger C. & Gordon O. (1986), Quantum well multijunction photovoltaic cell, (Patent application US4688068A).
  83. Samson J., Hao X. & Felix K., (2012), Solar cells based on polymer nanowires, (Patent application US20120202314A1).
  84. Sethi V., Mukesh P. & Priti S. (2011) Use of Nanotechnology in Solar PV Cell, International journal of chemical engineering and applications, 2, 77-80.
  85. Seung M. (2007), Recent Progress in Inorganic Solar Cells Using Quantum Structures, Recent Patents on Nanotechnology, 1, 1, 67-73.
  86. Sharma R. & Juhi N. (2013), Absorption of Light in Silicon Nanowire Solar Cells: Designing Of Solar Cells, International Journal of Computational Engineering Research, 3; 7; 25-28.
  87. Siegfried K, (2012), Nanowire multijunction solar cell, (Patent application US8242353B2).
  88. Silke D., Boer K. & Gerhardus D, (2013), Flexible nanowire based solar cell, (Patent application WO2013118048A1).
  89. Simon F. (2011) Solar cell with epitaxially grown quantum dot material, (Patent application US7863516B2).
  90. Sin K. et al (2014) Brush-painted flexible organic solar cells using highly transparent and flexible Ag nanowire network electrodes, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells,122, 152–157
  91. Solar server (2013); http://www.solarserver.com/solar-magazine/ solarnews/archive2013/2013/kw21/soitec-produces-436-efficient-4-junction-solar-pv-cell.html; (Accessed: 20 February 2015).
  92. Sorin G., Elizabeth W. & Travis B. (2008) Concentrating Solar Power -Technology, Cost, and Markets, Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development and Greentech Media.
  93. Souad et al (2013) Natural photosensitizers for dye sensitized solar cells, International Journal of Renewable Energy Research, 2013, 3, 1, 139-143.
  94. Standford (2012) http://news.stanford.edu/news/2012/october/ carbon-solar-cell-103112.html; (Accessed: 5th February 2015)
  95. Subas M., Vivek D., Sarfraj H. & Mujavar O., (2010). High efficient dye-sensitized solar cells using tio2- multiwalled carbon nano tube (mwcnt) nanocomposite, (Patent application WO2010079516A1).
  96. Tae K., Joo Y., Jae J., Jae Y. & Won P., (2012), Solar cell using p-i-n nanowire, (Patent application US20120097232A1)
  97. Takahito O, Chihaya A, (2007) Organic solar cell, (Patent application US20090199903A1).
  98. Tomohiro N. & Hirohiko M. (2009) Development of dye-sensitized solar cells, ULVAC Technical journal, 70, 1-5.
  99. Troy H. (2008) Quantum dot photovoltaic device, (Patent number US2008000183).
  100. U.S. Department of Energy- Energy Efficient and Renewable Energy, The history of solar, https://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/pdfs/ solar_timeline.pdf; (Accessed: 5 February 2015).
  101. Wide Bay Burnett Conservation Council Inc (WBBCC) (2010) https://wbbcc.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/solar-technology-explained.pdf; (Accessed: 5 February 2015)
  102. Wikipedia (2015), http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Timeline_of_solar _cells; (Accessed: 5 February 2015).
  103. Xu J, et al (2007) Organic-inorganic nanocomposites via directly grafting conjugated polymers onto quantum dots, Journal of American Chemical Society, 129, 42, 12828-12833.
  104. Yan J. et al. (2013) Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) enrich the solar cells, Solar Energy, 96, 239–252.
  105. Yanwu Z.,at al (2010), Graphene and Graphene Oxide: Synthesis, Properties, and Applications, Advance Material, 20, 1–19
  106. Yi J. et al (2011), Achieving high efficiency silicon-carbon nanotube heterojunction solar cells by acid doping, Nano letter, 11, 5, 1901–1905.
  107. Yijie H., Anjia G., James H., Shu H. & Paul M., (2012), Nano-wire solar cell or detector, (Patent application US20120006390A1).
  108. Yongping F. et al (2012) Dye-sensitized solar cell tube, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 112; 212–219.
  109. Yu-Lin T. et al, (2013) Improving efficiency of InGaN/GaN multiple quantum well solar cells using CdS quantum dots and distributed Bragg reflectors, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 217, 531–536.
  110. Zemena K., et al (2013) Comparison of new conductive adhesives based on silver and carbon nanotubes for solar cells interconnection, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 109; 155–159.
  111. Zetian M. & Md K., (2013), High Efficiency Broadband Semiconductor Nanowire Devices, (Patent application US20130240348A1).