Publication

Investigation of Bismuth Iodine as Light Absorbing Materials for Solar Cell Applications: From Synthesis to XPS Characterisation

Authors: Jonatan Fast (Uppsala University)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Thesis

State: Published (Approved)
Published: July 2017

Abstract: During the last years perovskite materials have taken the photovoltaic community by storm, bringing promises of solar cells with efficiencies comparable to conventional silicon devices but at a lower price. However perovskite solar cells so far are facing two main obstacles, they are unstable in the presence of air, moisture and heat and they are usually toxic due to being based on lead-halide materials. This has spurred investigations into alternative materials with similar properties but without the mentioned drawbacks. Just next to Pb in the periodic table is bismuth (Bi) with just one more electron in its outer-shell, Bi however is less toxic. In this work the perovskite derived compounds of Ag-Bi-I and Cu-Bi-I are characterized and their properties as light absorbing material in solar cell devices are investigated. Devices are prepared by preparing Ag-Bi-I and Cu-Bi-I solutions which are then spin-coated on top of a mesoporous TiO2. A conducting polymer, P3HT, was then deposited and serve as hole transport material. For Ag-Bi-I, the molar ratios of AgI:BiI3= 1:2 and 2:1 were observed with SEM to form homogeneous crystal films with one dominating crystal phase, which by XRD could be determined to most likely have formed a cubic AgBi2I7 crystal structure for the 1:2 ratio and a hexagonal Ag2BiI5 crystal structure for the 2:1 ratio. The Cu-Bi-I materials were not successfully synthesized to form homogeneous films with a dominating crystal phase, although several molar ratios were investigated. All investigated compositions of both Cu and Ag devices showed to in principle work as light absorbing materials, the best Ag-Bi-I device showing a PCE of 1.92%, for the 2:1 ratio, while the Cu-Bi-I devices at best reached 0.32% for a ratio of 1:1. XPS measurements were carried out with a classical in-house XPS using an Al K X-ray source of 1486.7 eV as well as at the Diamond Light Source (UK) synchrotron facility using photon energies of 758 eV and 2200 eV so that a depth resolution of the composition could be observed. Because of their inhomogeneous crystal formation, XPS couldn’t give much useful quantitative information regarding the Cu devices. For Ag devices it was observed that the stoichiometry at the extreme surface deviated from that predicted by XRD, but deeper into the surface the relative ratio of elements approach the predicted ones, hinting towards a different structure at the outermost surface or a lot of surface defects. For all samples, two types of bismuth atoms were observed, metallic (Bi0) as well as a cationic (Bi+x), the later corresponding to Bi atoms which are partaking in the crystal bond. The ratio of metallic to cationic Bi was observed to decrease notably just a few nm below the extreme surface. The effect of the high presence of metallic Bi on final device performance was not concluded with certainty but not believed to be positive. By varying the annealing temperature, after spin coating the light absorber solution on the TiO2, it was observed that lower temperature resulted in a lower ratio of metallic Bi. As final conclusions, it was said that the synthesis method of Cu-Bi-I needs to be improved before those materials can be studied further. The synthesis of Ag-Bi-I is showing much more promise and one can start looking into further optimizing their final device structure to boost efficiency. Both Cu-Bi-I and Ag-Bi-I devices are relatively simple, cheap and energy efficient (with annealing temperatures around 150C) to produce, great aspects for solar cells. UVVis measurements showed they have band gaps around 1.6-1.7 eV which makes them a great potential material for use in tandem solar cells together with a semiconductor of lower band gap such as silicon.

Journal Keywords: Bismuth, Iodine; Light absorbing; Light absorbing materials; Solar, solar cell; Synthesis; XPS; Characterisation; synchrotron; energy; x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy; perovskite

Subject Areas: Materials, Energy


Instruments: I09-Surface and Interface Structural Analysis