Scientists create thin films made from barium zirconium sulfide which could lower solar energy costs

Scientists at University at Buffalo, New York, have created thin films made from barium zirconium sulfide (BaZrS3) and confirmed »that the materials have alluring electronic and optical properties predicted by theorists.« The films combine exceptionally strong light absorption with good charge transport - »two qualities that make them ideal for applications such as photovoltaics and light-emitting diodes.« In solar panels experimental results suggest that BaZrS3 films would be much more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity than traditional silicon-based materials with identical thicknesses, says lead researcher Hao Zeng, professor of physics in the University at Buffalo. This could lower solar energy costs, especially because the new films performed admirably even when they had imperfections.
BaZrS3 belongs to a category of materials known as chalcogenide perovskites, which are nontoxic, earth-abundant compounds. In recent years, theorists have calculated that various chalcogenide perovskites should exhibit useful electronic and optical properties, and these predictions have captured the interest and imagination of experimentalists like Zeng. According to the researchers, they crafted their BaZrS3 films by using a laser to heat up and vaporize barium zirconium oxide. The vapor was deposited on a sapphire surface, forming a film, and then converted into the final material through a chemical reaction called sulfurization.
In addition to the NSF and DOE SunShot program, the research received support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration’s Laboratory Directed Research & Development program.
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