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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/N014057/1
Title: Capacitance spectroscopy led process innovations to improve VOC in CdTe thin film solar cells
Principal Investigator: Major, Dr JD
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Calyxo GmbH First Solar Inc Lancaster University
Mugla Sitki Kocman University Semimetrics Ltd
Department: Physics
Organisation: University of Liverpool
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 May 2016 Ends: 31 December 2022 Value (£): 810,102
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Solar Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
25 Feb 2016 Engineering Fellowship Interview Panel A February 2016 Announced
25 Nov 2015 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 25th and 26th November 2015 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
An alternative solar cell technology: Cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells offer an alternative to the current market leading Silicon based photovoltaic (PV) modules. CdTe solar cells have lower materials costs and generate less CO2 during production that Si. These modules are now in mass production and are already one of the lowest cost-per-watt solar technologies. Their continued development is however being limited by a failure to improve the generated voltage. This limit needs to be overcome in order reduce the cost per watt of power generation from solar and help end the need for a subsidised PV market. This fellowship seeks to identify a way to overcome this limitation.

A new methodology: The standard way to improve solar cell performance is through empirical process developments, optimising deposition conditions and techniques. This fellowship seeks to develop a different approach by using powerful capacitance spectroscopy techniques to identify routes to new process innovations. Capacitance spectroscopy allows electrically active defects, which are the cause of the voltage loss in CdTe solar cells, to be identified. By monitoring the number and position of these defects, linked to cell production and performance, we can identify both their source and their impact. This allows the key defects which most harm cell performance to be determined and thus process innovations to eliminate them can be developed. Through this physics-led approach to cell production we can overcome the voltage limitation in CdTe solar cells.

Wider impact: Whilst this project focuses on CdTe solar cells, the methodology established will have wider implications. There are a number of other solar cell technologies that have similar limitations and can benefit from the application of the techniques developed during this fellowship. The work undertaken in this project will benefit an entire generation of solar cells.

The research team: The fellowship applicant Dr Jon Major will lead the research team working on the project. Dr Major has over ten years' experience working with CdTe solar cells and is one of the country's leading young PV researchers. The project will be carried out at the University of Liverpool's Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy, a cross-disciplinary research centre working on numerous aspects of renewable energy.

This fellowship proposal has three key aims;

- Overcome the voltage limitation in CdTe solar cells.

- Establish a capacitance spectroscopy led approach to solar cell development.

- Accelerate the career progression of one of the UK's leading young PV researchers.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.liv.ac.uk