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Solar panels are composed of photovoltaicelements, and materials that are exposed to light generate an electric current. Modern thin-film solar cells are composed of micrometer or submicron thick layers of photovoltaic material, which allows them to be integrated into flexible and lightweight panels for use in a variety of substrates.
However, this process has somerestrictions. Professor Jun Ho Kim of Incheon National University, who led the study, explains, "Most thin-film solar cells contain toxic and expensive elements that limit the use of solar cells." Professor Kim and his team have worked to produce a solar cell using environmentally friendly natural materials that are easy to mine and inexpensive to produce.
Scientists have paid attention to environmentally friendlykesterite, a natural mineral that acts as a photon absorber. Most solar panels use a cadmium sulfide (CdS) buffer layer to optimize the performance of the kesterite. The contamination associated with the creation of these buffers and the toxicity of cadmium are undesirable for creating green solar cells.
To solve this problem, the researchers studieda promising alternative to CdS is "ZTO buffers". These are glass substrates coated with zinc and tin oxide. To further improve the efficiency of the solar cell, the team evened out the electron energy levels between the kesterite absorber layer and the ZTO buffer layer. This improved the circulation of electrons between the two layers, increasing cell voltage and overall performance.
This method is the first to achieve such high productivity using extremely environmentally friendly, affordable and inexpensive materials.
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