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High Efficiency Low Cost Si/ZnO Heterojunction Solar Cells


Background: Researchers in Prof. Fritz Prinz’s laboratory have engineered a very efficient cost effective solar cell architecture and fabrication process. These cells achieve high performance through an advantageous silicon/zinc oxide semiconductor heterojunction band alignment which leads to higher open circuit voltages. In addition the zinc oxide layer provides additional absorption of ultraviolet light resulting in higher short circuit currents. At the same time the design and manufacturing process lowers costs by employing low cost materials and simple thin layer deposition which reduces the total amount of material used and avoids expensive and time consuming fabrication steps. This technology can be used in photovoltaic devices to enable large scale cost effective conversion of solar power to usable electricity for local use or wide distribution. Technology Description: The purpose of this invention is to expound the architecture and fabrication of a set of photovoltaic devices comprised principally of silicon and zinc oxide that are both very efficient and potentially very low cost thus enabling the large scale cost effective conversion of incident solar power to usable electric power. Applications: Solar cells for photovoltaic devices to generate electric power: rooftop installation for local use large scale power generation arrays for wide distribution.


1) Low cost: lower cost than current all-silicon solar cells with similar efficiency fabrication with simple deposition of low cost thin film layers on appropriately doped silicon substrate reduces expense of raw materials and manufacturing 2) High performance: ~21% efficiency alignment of silicon and zinc oxide increases open circuit voltages zinc oxide layer improves light absorption in ultraviolet range 3) Robust - prototype devices are damage resistant and have shown no performance degradation over the course of a year

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