Ivan Caño Prades and Axel Gon Medaille have participated in the Latsis Symposium on Earth-Abundant Materials for Future Photovoltaics (SeeFuturePV)

On 22-24 June 2022, Ivan Caño and Axel Gon Medaille attended and participated in the SeeFuturePV conference, which took place at EPFL campus in Lausanne (Switzerland).

SeeFuturePV symposium aimed at bringing together leading experts from the materials science and photovoltaics field to discuss fundamental and applied aspects of earth-abundant materials suitable for solar energy production. Therefore, the symposium provided an excellent platform for researchers working on the development of earth-abundant and newly emerging materials for thin film PV, including both experimental and theoretical approaches. The main focus was on presenting recent and on-going research leading to improved understanding of materials and devices, and exploring new directions for more efficient production of solar cells based on earth-abundant materials. In particular, some of its topics included: Emerging earth-abundant materials and nanomaterials for solar cell absorbers, Absorber preparation and materials properties, and Novel solar cell architectures.

Concerning these topics, Ivan Caño presented his work “Innovative quasi-1D SbSeI micro-columnar semiconductors for defect-tolerant, optically tuneable solar cells” as a public talk. Indeed, quasi-1D chalco-halide semiconductors are highly interesting as photovoltaic materials, owing to their unique capacity to exhibit enhanced anisotropic electrical properties when they are correctly oriented, and also due to the earth abundancy and low toxicity of its components. Specifically, Ivan’s presentation was focused on describing the synthesis process developed by the SENSATE team, which allows to tune the morphology of SbSeI micro-columnar structures. In addition, solar cell results were presented which demonstrated high open-circuit voltage values up to 550 mV.

For his part, Axel Gon Medaille presented the poster entitled “Numerical investigation of interface passivation strategies for Sb2Se3/CdS solar cells” during the poster session. Sb2Se3 is an emerging earth-abundant material praised for its promising optoelectronic properties. However, Sb2Se3-based solar cells are still limited in comparison with other thin-film PV technologies due to the presence of deep interfacial defects at the vicinity of the p-n junction. Using a device modelling approach and a realistic set of material parameters, Axel presented pathways to mitigate the impact of interfacial defects on the performance of a baseline device in substrate configuration.

Ivan and Axel had the opportunity to attend several excellent presentations by experts in the materials science and energy engineering fields. In particular, they greatly enjoyed the presentations by Dr. Aron Walsh (which lucidly presented the requirements that an emerging material has to meet to become the “next perovskite”), Jonathan Turnley and Kevin Ye (both showed the potential of chalcogenide perovskites as novel photovoltaic absorbers), Dr. Thomas Weiss (who discussed the current limitations of Sb2Se3), Dr. Andrea Crovetto (who presented new families of PV materials, such as CaCuP and CuP2), and Thomas Ratz (impact of Ge incorporation in kesterite). Furthermore, the distended environment of the conference allowed the SENSATE members to interact with these leading specialists, benefiting from their insight and experience.

Finally, Ivan and Axel were invited to visit the facilities of the Laboratory of Semiconductor Materials at EPFL, including the impressive three-floor CMi cleanroom infrastructure. In their free time, they visited the lakefront of the beautiful Lake Leman, and Lausanne’s city centre.

Ivan and Axel wish to acknowledge the organizers of the SeeFuturePV symposium, Prof. Anna Fontuberta and Dr. Mirjana Dimitrievska, for the opportunity to participate in the event.