What is it about?

In this paper, we used quantum mechanical models to predict how to optimise the absorption (important for a solar cell!) for these inorganic solar cell materials, and this was then used to inform the synthesis and reatment conditions to make the record-breaking ultrathin solar cells.

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Why is it important?

Some of the main highlights from this work are that (1) our material has the strongest light absorption of any other solar cell material which (2) allows it to be used in ‘ultrathin’ cells (as in the paper) which are 1000x thinner than conventional silicon solar cells (or 100x thinner than hair), meaning they are flexible and non-invasive, and so can be easily integrated to windows, car surfaces, wearable electronic, flooring etc (basically all the benefits mentioned In this article https://www.vox.com/2016/6/23/11998908/ultra-thin-solar-cells) and are very cheap (low material cost and solution-grown so industrially-scalable). Also (3) this is the highest performing, by far, bismuth-based solar material, which had seen an explosion in research interest over the last decade as potential non-toxic and stable alternatives to lead-based perovskites. The fact we’ve been able to improve the efficiency of this material from 1-2% to nearly 10% in less than a decade, compared to >60 years of slow and steady improvements to get silicon to ~26%, gives us hope we can continue this rapid growth in efficiency in the coming years.


This work is important because it shows that lead-free inorganic materials can show high solar cell efficiencies, giving hope that we can further improve on these results to develop solar technologies that are cheaper and just as efficient as the Silicon state-of-the-art.

Seán Ronan Kavanagh
Imperial College London

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Cation disorder engineering yields AgBiS2 nanocrystals with enhanced optical absorption for efficient ultrathin solar cells, Nature Photonics, February 2022, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1038/s41566-021-00950-4.
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