Is 3D/2D Passivation a Secret to Success for Polycrystalline Thin-Film Solar Cells?

Research output: NRELPresentation


Three leading thin-film photovoltaic (PV) technologies - cadmium telluride (CdTe), CuIn1-xGaxSe2 (CIGS), and perovskite solar cells (PSCs) - are all polycrystalline, but otherwise appear to have little in common. A comprehensive examination of these technologies, however, reveals a common theme: the formation of two-dimensional (2D) van der Waals materials at three-dimensional (3D) absorber interfaces and grain boundaries. In CdTe, the 2D compound is CdCl2; in CIGS, it is XInSe2 (X= K, Rb, Cs) with X depending on the heavy-alkali post-deposition treatment used; and in lead halide PSCs, PbI2 forms naturally, but many new, more stable, 2D perovskites have also been incorporated. Generally, these 2D interfacial materials are present not by design, but instead have evolved from their 3D counterparts during standard device processing. Here, new data, together with evidence compiled from the literature, are presented to illustrate both the existence of 3D/2D interfaces in CdTe, CIGS, and PSCs, and their correlation with improved passivation and device performance. This suggests that 3D/2D passivation may be a heretofore unappreciated key to successful polycrystalline thin-film PV. Finally, the desired attributes of successful low-dimensional layers are presented with rational design strategies for next generation polycrystalline solar cells.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the European Materials Research Society Spring Meeting, 2 June, 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5K00-80299


  • 3D/2D
  • cadmium telluride
  • CdTe
  • CIGS
  • passivation
  • perovskites
  • polycrystalline
  • thin-film
  • two-dimensional


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