Cadmium Telluride Solar Cells: From Fundamental Science to Commercial Applications

Research output: NRELPoster


In order to meet aggressive decarbonization goals, photovoltacs (PV) need to expand substantially. The current technology that heavily dominates the market, silicon (Si), comprises 95% of the world's PV production, is energy intensive to make, and can take up a substantial portion of the remaining carbon budget if expanded. Conversely, cadmium telluride (CdTe) comprises much of the remaining 5% of the global PV market and has a significantly lower carbon footprint than Si, historically costs less to produce, and is critically important to U.S. competitiveness in the global market. Importantly, CdTe still has room to grow, particularly related to efficiency because voltage has historically been much lower than what we calculate it should be. My research is focused in part on understanding this voltage deficit from a fundamental perspective by studying bulk materials and interfaces. One of the most important regions of the device is buried within the stack, so I developed a technique to cleave and reveal buried interfaces. This cleave technique has enabled a much better scientific understanding and allows us to make lightweight, flexible PV while maintaining low costs, high efficiency, and high throughput associated with standard module processing.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePresented at the Summer School Research and Development 20 for Clean Energy (RD20), 2-7 July 2023, Prapoutel, France

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-5K00-86698


  • CdTe
  • decarbonization
  • front interface
  • voltage loss


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