High-performance thin-film photovoltaics: the search for an ideal solar absorber

William Mong Distinguished Lecture by Professor David B. Mitzi
May 7, 2019

Professor David B. Mitzi from Duke University, gave a lecture on May 7, 2019 titled “High-performance thin-film photovoltaics: the search for an ideal solar absorber”.

Given the expected world population increase to above the 8 billion level by mid-century and associated ever-increasing energy demand, as well as the requirement to reduce undesirable side effects of burning fossil fuels, there is an acute need for cleaner and more sustainable forms of energy conversion. While the solution to this problem will likely involve a broad portfolio of energy options, the progressive reduction of cost and vast “fuel” supply for photovoltaic (PV) technologies suggests that this pathway is poised to play a vital role in this mix. This talk focused on one important approach towards more ubiquitous solar energy, thin-film PV, and introduce two particularly promising directions for contemporary materials research in this field – i.e., earth-abundant chalcogenide and halide perovskite absorbers. Key aspects of this story include focus on band gap control and defect engineering approaches, as well as better pathways for materials processing, to enable cost-competitive and high performance devices, which in turn may help to propel thin-film PV into a more dominant position within our energy portfolio.