Tandem Solar Cells from Solution-Processed CdTe and PbS Quantum Dots Using a ZnTe-ZnO Tunnel Junction

Ryan W. Crisp, Gregory F. Pach, J. Matthew Kurley, Ryan M. France, Matthew O. Reese, Sanjini U. Nanayakkara, Bradley A. Macleod, Dmitri V. Talapin, Matthew C. Beard, Joseph M. Luther

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus Citations


We developed a monolithic CdTe-PbS tandem solar cell architecture in which both the CdTe and PbS absorber layers are solution-processed from nanocrystal inks. Due to their tunable nature, PbS quantum dots (QDs), with a controllable band gap between 0.4 and ∼1.6 eV, are a promising candidate for a bottom absorber layer in tandem photovoltaics. In the detailed balance limit, the ideal configuration of a CdTe (Eg = 1.5 eV)-PbS tandem structure assumes infinite thickness of the absorber layers and requires the PbS band gap to be 0.75 eV to theoretically achieve a power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 45%. However, modeling shows that by allowing the thickness of the CdTe layer to vary, a tandem with efficiency over 40% is achievable using bottom cell band gaps ranging from 0.68 and 1.16 eV. In a first step toward developing this technology, we explore CdTe-PbS tandem devices by developing a ZnTe-ZnO tunnel junction, which appropriately combines the two subcells in series. We examine the basic characteristics of the solar cells as a function of layer thickness and bottom-cell band gap and demonstrate open-circuit voltages in excess of 1.1 V with matched short circuit current density of 10 mA/cm2 in prototype devices.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1020-1027
Number of pages8
JournalNano Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - 8 Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-67334


  • Multijunction
  • nanocrystals
  • photovoltaics
  • quantum dots
  • solar cell
  • tandem


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