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Candidate photoferroic absorber materials for solar cells from naturally occurring minerals: enargite, stephanite and bournonite

Monday 24th April 2017
Time: 12.00pm
Venue: Room G05, Royal School of Mines, Imperial College London
Contact: Ms Hafiza Bibi

Suzanne Wallace

Department of Materials

Abstract: To build on the success of other mineral systems employed in solar cells, including kesterites (Cu2ZnSnS4) and herzenbergite (SnS), and mineral-inspired systems such as perovskites (CH3NH3PbI3), we have searched for photoactive minerals with the additional constraint that a polar crystal structure is adopted. Electric fields provide a driving force to separate electrons and holes in semiconducting materials. In the context of light-to-electricity conversion in photovoltaic devices, the electric fields that drive photo-carrier separation are typically associated with a ‘p-n’ or ‘p-i-n’ junction. The utility of using materials that contain internal electric fields, arising from spontaneous polarisation of the lattice, has recently become apparent and we further highlight desirable material properties for photovoltaic applications that polar or ferroelectric crystals are likely to possess.  We identify enargite (Cu3AsS4), stephanite (Ag5SbS4) and bournonite (CuPbSbS3) as candidate materials and explore their properties using a first-principles quantum chemical approach.

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