PROJECT PROFILE: University of Illinois at Chicago (PVRD)

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Project Name: Improving Reliability and Reducing Cost in CdTe Photovoltaics via Grain Boundary Engineering
Funding Opportunity: PVRD
SunShot Subprogram: Photovoltaics
Location: Chicago, IL
SunShot Award Amount: $959,400
Awardee Cost Share: $169,736
Project Investigator: Robert Klie

This project is developing an innovative approach to understand and eliminate the detrimental effects of grain boundaries in poly-crystalline thin-film cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells. The project team will examine how grain boundaries play a role in limiting the open circuit voltage, performance, and reliability and leverage insight from fundamental atomic and electronic studies.

Approach

The research team will use CdTe bi-crystal model systems to investigate how grain boundaries play a crucial role in collecting impurities that limit the performance and reliability by creating fast diffusion paths for impurities as the module is subjected to cyclic and elevated temperatures and continued insolation. The results from model systems will be validated and transferred to commercial poly-crystalline CdTe devices.

Innovation

This project will improve the understanding of grain boundaries and enable grain boundary engineering to address material-level problems that affect the performance of CdTe technology. By leveraging insight from fundamental atomic and electronic studies, this project will reduce performance losses and degradation due to grain boundaries in CdTe, which will result in higher efficiency CdTe cells.