Practical roadmap and limits to nanostructured photovoltaics

Richard R. Lunt, Timothy P. Osedach, Patrick R. Brown, Jill A. Rowehl, Vladimir Bulović

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 122 Citations

Abstract

The significant research interest in the engineering of photovoltaic (PV) structures at the nanoscale is directed toward enabling reductions in PV module fabrication and installation costs as well as improving cell power conversion efficiency (PCE). With the emergence of a multitude of nanostructured photovoltaic (nano-PV) device architectures, the question has arisen of where both the practical and the fundamental limits of performance reside in these new systems. Here, the former is addressed a posteriori. The specific challenges associated with improving the electrical power conversion efficiency of various nano-PV technologies are discussed and several approaches to reduce their thermal losses beyond the single bandgap limit are reviewed. Critical considerations related to the module lifetime and cost that are unique to nano-PV architectures are also addressed. The analysis suggests that a practical single-junction laboratory power conversion efficiency limit of 17% and a two-cell tandem power conversion efficiency limit of 24% are possible for nano-PVs, which, when combined with operating lifetimes of 10 to 15 years, could position them as a transformational technology for solar energy markets. The practical efficiency limits for nanostructured photovoltaics including organic small molecule, dye-sensitized, polymer, and colloidal-quantum-dot architectures estimated a posteriori are assessed. The specific challenges associated with improving the electrical power conversion efficiency of various nanostructured photovoltaic (nano-PV) technologies are discussed and several approaches to reduce their thermal losses beyond the single bandgap limit are reviewed. Critical considerations related to the module lifetime and cost that are unique to nano-PV architectures are also discussed.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages5712-5727
Number of pages16
JournalAdvanced Materials
Volume23
Issue number48
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 22 2011

Profile

Conversion efficiency
Energy gap
Costs
Solar energy
Semiconductor quantum dots
Polymers
Coloring Agents
Dyes
Fabrication
Molecules
Hot Temperature

Keywords

  • colloidal nanocrystals
  • colloidal quantum dots
  • efficiency limits
  • molecular semiconductors
  • nanostructured photovoltaics
  • organic semiconductors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

Cite this

Lunt, R. R., Osedach, T. P., Brown, P. R., Rowehl, J. A., & Bulović, V. (2011). Practical roadmap and limits to nanostructured photovoltaics. Advanced Materials, 23(48), 5712-5727. DOI: 10.1002/adma.201103404

Practical roadmap and limits to nanostructured photovoltaics. / Lunt, Richard R.; Osedach, Timothy P.; Brown, Patrick R.; Rowehl, Jill A.; Bulović, Vladimir.

In: Advanced Materials, Vol. 23, No. 48, 22.12.2011, p. 5712-5727.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Lunt, RR, Osedach, TP, Brown, PR, Rowehl, JA & Bulović, V 2011, 'Practical roadmap and limits to nanostructured photovoltaics' Advanced Materials, vol 23, no. 48, pp. 5712-5727. DOI: 10.1002/adma.201103404
Lunt RR, Osedach TP, Brown PR, Rowehl JA, Bulović V. Practical roadmap and limits to nanostructured photovoltaics. Advanced Materials. 2011 Dec 22;23(48):5712-5727. Available from, DOI: 10.1002/adma.201103404
Lunt, Richard R. ; Osedach, Timothy P. ; Brown, Patrick R. ; Rowehl, Jill A. ; Bulović, Vladimir. / Practical roadmap and limits to nanostructured photovoltaics. In: Advanced Materials. 2011 ; Vol. 23, No. 48. pp. 5712-5727
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