Perovskite solar cells (PSCs) and dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) both represent promising strategies for the sustainable conversion of sunlight into electricity and fuels. However, a few flaws of current devices hinder the large-scale establishment of such technologies. On one hand, PSCs suffer from instabilities and undesired phenomena mostly linked to the perovskite/hole transport layer (HTL) interface. Most of the currently employed organic HTL (e.g., Spiro-OMeTAD) are supposed to contribute to the perovskite decomposition and to be responsible for charge recombination processes and polarization barriers. On the other hand, power conversion efficiencies (PCEs) of DSCs are still too low to compete with other conversion technologies. Tandem cells are built by assembling p-type and n-type DSCs in a cascade architecture and, since each dye absorbs on a different portion of the solar spectrum, the harvesting window is increased and the theoretical efficiency limit for a single chromophore (i.e., the Shockley-Queisser limit) is overcome. However, such a strategy is hindered by the lack of a p-type semiconductor with optimal photocathode features. Nickel oxide has been, by far, the first-choice inorganic p-type semiconductor for both PV technologies, but its toxicity and non-optimal features (e.g., too low open circuit voltage and the presence of trap states) call for alternatives. Herein, we study of three p-type semiconductors as possible alternative to NiO, namely CuI, CuSCN and Cu2O. To this aim, we compare the structural and electronic features of the three materials by means of a unified theoretical approach based on the state-of-the art density functional theory (DFT). We focus on the calculation of their valence band edge energies and compare such values with those of two widely employed photo-absorbers, i.e., methylammonium lead iodide (MAPI) and the triple cation MAFACsPbBrI in PSCs and P1 and Y123 dyes in DSCs, given that the band alignment and the energy offset are crucial for the charge transport at the interfaces and have direct implications on the final efficiency. We dissect the effect a copper vacancy (i.e., intrinsic p-type doping) on the alignment pattern and rationalize it from both a structural and an electronic perspective. Our data show how defects can represent a crucial degree of freedom to control the driving force for hole injection in these devices.

First-Principles Study of Cu-Based Inorganic Hole Transport Materials for Solar Cell Applications

Pecoraro, Adriana;Maddalena, Pasqualino;Pavone, Michele
;
Munoz Garcia, Ana B
2022

Abstract

Perovskite solar cells (PSCs) and dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) both represent promising strategies for the sustainable conversion of sunlight into electricity and fuels. However, a few flaws of current devices hinder the large-scale establishment of such technologies. On one hand, PSCs suffer from instabilities and undesired phenomena mostly linked to the perovskite/hole transport layer (HTL) interface. Most of the currently employed organic HTL (e.g., Spiro-OMeTAD) are supposed to contribute to the perovskite decomposition and to be responsible for charge recombination processes and polarization barriers. On the other hand, power conversion efficiencies (PCEs) of DSCs are still too low to compete with other conversion technologies. Tandem cells are built by assembling p-type and n-type DSCs in a cascade architecture and, since each dye absorbs on a different portion of the solar spectrum, the harvesting window is increased and the theoretical efficiency limit for a single chromophore (i.e., the Shockley-Queisser limit) is overcome. However, such a strategy is hindered by the lack of a p-type semiconductor with optimal photocathode features. Nickel oxide has been, by far, the first-choice inorganic p-type semiconductor for both PV technologies, but its toxicity and non-optimal features (e.g., too low open circuit voltage and the presence of trap states) call for alternatives. Herein, we study of three p-type semiconductors as possible alternative to NiO, namely CuI, CuSCN and Cu2O. To this aim, we compare the structural and electronic features of the three materials by means of a unified theoretical approach based on the state-of-the art density functional theory (DFT). We focus on the calculation of their valence band edge energies and compare such values with those of two widely employed photo-absorbers, i.e., methylammonium lead iodide (MAPI) and the triple cation MAFACsPbBrI in PSCs and P1 and Y123 dyes in DSCs, given that the band alignment and the energy offset are crucial for the charge transport at the interfaces and have direct implications on the final efficiency. We dissect the effect a copper vacancy (i.e., intrinsic p-type doping) on the alignment pattern and rationalize it from both a structural and an electronic perspective. Our data show how defects can represent a crucial degree of freedom to control the driving force for hole injection in these devices.
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11588/895609
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 0
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact