Carbon Nanotubes for Quantum Dot Photovoltaics with Enhanced Light Management and Charge Transport

Severin Habisreutinger, Yujiro Tazawa, Nanlin Zhang, Daniel Gregory, Gabriel Nagamine, Sameer Kesava, Giulio Mazzotta, Hazel Assender, Moritz Riede, Lazaro Padilha, Robin Nicholas, Andrew Watt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus Citations


Colloidal quantum dot (CQD)-based photovoltaics are an emerging low-cost solar cell technology with power conversion efficiencies exceeding 10%, i.e., high enough to be interesting for commercialization. Well-controlled and understood charge carrier transport through the device stack is required to make the next step in efficiency improvements. In this paper, polymer-wrapped single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) films embedded in an insulating poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) matrix and capped by a thermally evaporated Au electrode are investigated as a composite hole transport layer and optical spacer. Employing transient absorption spectroscopy we show that the SWNTs enhance the charge transfer rate from CQD to CQD, ZnO, or SWNT. In order to pinpoint the underlying mechanism for the improvement, we investigate the energetics of the junction by measuring the relative alignment of the band edges, using Kelvin probe and cyclic voltammetry. Measuring the external quantum efficiency and absorption we find that the improvement is not mainly from electronic improvements but from enhanced absorption of the CQD absorber. We demonstrate experimentally and theoretically, by employing a transfer-matrix model, that the transparent PMMA matrix acts as an optical spacer, which leads to an enhanced absorption in the absorber layer. With these electronic and optical enhancements, the efficiency of the PbS CQD solar cells improved from 4.0% to 6.0%.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4854-4863
Number of pages10
JournalACS Photonics
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2018

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-73019


  • charge carrier transfer
  • colloidal quantum dots
  • hole transport layer
  • optical spacer effect
  • photovoltaics
  • single-walled carbon nanotube


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