Nitride Semiconductor for Environment Friendly Photovoltaics

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Tokyo Institute of Technology (TIT)  team has focused on copper nitride, composed of environment-friendly elements to produce cleaner thin film photovoltaics

The Tokyo Institute of Technology research team has unveiled that copper nitride acts as an n-type semiconductor with p-type conduction provided by fluorine doping. These n-type and p-type copper nitride semiconductors could replace the conventional toxic or rare materials in photovoltaic cells.

Low cost and scalable manufacturing

It utilises a unique nitriding technique and a computational search for appropriate doping elements as well as atomically resolved microscopy and electronic structure analysis using synchrotron radiation.

By utilising the photovoltaic effect, thin layers of specific p-type and n-type materials are sandwiched together to produce electricity from sunlight. The technology shows the route of a brighter future for solar energy, allowing low-cost and scalable manufacturing as compared to crystalline silicon technology.

Growing a nitride crystal in a high-quality form is challenging but TIT team have overcome the difficulty by introducing a novel catalytic reaction route using ammonia and oxidant gas. The n-type conductor has excess electrons and on inserting fluorine element in the open space of the crystal, they found that this n-type compound transformed into p-type.

P-type and n-type conduction in the same material developed by the team are said to be beneficial to design the efficient solar cell structure. This material is non-toxic, abundant and also cheap.

With the development of these p-type and n-type semiconductors, in a scalable forming technique using simple and safe elements, the positive qualities will further bring thin-film technology into the light.