UNSW team has broken CZTS 10 percent energy conversion efficiency barrier

Xiaojing Hao (left) and her team have achieved four efficiency records in the past two years.

Solar energy researcher and Scientia Fellow Xiaojing Hao and her team at the Australian University of New South Wales (UNSW) has broken the 10 percent energy conversion efficiency barrier for the solar cell material sulfide kesterite, a compound made up of copper, zinc, tin and sulfur. Sulfide kesterite (Cu2ZnSnS4, also referred to as CZTS) is a thin-film semiconductor material derived from PV material CIGS (copper indium gallium (di)selenide) which is a commercialized high efficiency thin-film PV technology that has the added advantage of being able to be applied to flexible surfaces. According to the UNSW, a drawback of CIGS is that indium is relatively rare and in high demand for use in flat panel displays (such as television screens, notebook screens, and touch screens), »which means it is expensive.«
Xiaojing Hao says that while the energy efficiency of CZTS is not yet at a level of that can be used in industry, »the results are promising for a material that is abundant and cheap to procure.« So CZTS is cheap, abundantly sourced, flexible, non-toxic and easily integrated into existing manufacturing processes. »Missing is the energy efficiency levels needed for the material to be used commercially.« Given the advances in efficiency made in the past few years – from 7.6 percent to 11 percent – Hao believes she and her team are on the right track to achieving efficiency levels of 15 or 20 percent.

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