N-type conductive tin sulfide thin films for environmentally friendly solar cells
Tin sulfide (SnS) is an abundant, safe, and environmentally friendly solar cell material. This inexpensive material is forecast to be used in next-generation solar cell panels.
A research group led by Issei Suzuki and Sakiko Kawanishi, assistant professors at Tohoku University's Institute of Multidisciplinary Research for Advanced Materials, has fabricated n-type conductive SnS thin films by impurity doping for the first time.
Conventional SnS thin films are usually p-type conductive. Thus, SnS thin-film solar cells have been fabricated using a pn heterojunction with p-type SnS thin film and other n-type semiconductor thin films, such as CdS. However, the conversion efficiency of such heterojunction devices has stagnated at approximately 5%, rendering their use impractical.
The SnS thin-film solar cells employing a pn homojunction, which uses SnS thin films for both p-type and n-type layers, is expected to exhibit higher conversion efficiency. Yet, n-type conducive SnS thin films without toxic elements have never been achieved before.
Using chlorine-doping and a sulfur plasma supply, the research group reduced the lattice defects inhibiting the n-type conversion of SnS, realizing the world's first n-type SnS thin films without toxic elements.
"Our realization paves the way for practical pn homojunction SnS thin-film solar cells," said Suzuki.
The results of the research were published in Physical Review Materials on December 9, 2021.