Solar Cells from Earth Abundant Cu3VVI4 Materials

•Through synergistic coupling between theory and experiments, we have synthesized nanoparticles and thin films of the Cu3VVI4 class of materials (where V = P, As, Sb and VI = S, Se). By changing the group V and VI atoms, tunable properties are achieved, allowing for a variety of device applications such as solar cells, thermoelectrics, etc.

•We have developed a novel technique to grow thin films from nanoparticles in the Cu3VVI4 system. Such films display micron-sized dense grains suitable for semiconductor device applications. As an example, we fabricated a thin-film solar cell using Cu3AsS4 as the absorber layer, the first device to successfully use the material.

•To enhance device fabrication efforts, we have used density functional theory to determine band offsets within the Cu3VVI4 system. These calculations will enable rapid selection of buffer layers and contacts for use in high-efficiency devices.

Purdue’s 6th Annual Duke Energy Academy enabled high school students and teachers to gain hands-on experience with solar cells and nanotechnology. Our team hosted a hands-on experiment in which participants constructed dye-sensitized solar cells using berry juice as the sensitizing agent. Students learned about the fundamentals of solar energy and nanotechnology as well as the philosophy of the MGI.

Other notable broader impacts are:

•Mentoring of undergraduate students during semester-long internships
•Volunteering at Purdue’s NanoDays for high school students
•Serving in leadership roles such as departmental safety officer and graduate student organization president
•Teaching science lessons to third graders at a local elementary school

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