Solar energy conversion plays a very important role in the rapid introduction of renewable energy, which is essential to meet future energy demands without further polluting the environment, but current solar panels based on silicon are expensive due to the cost of raw materials and high energy consumption during production. The way forward is to move towards thin-film solar cells using alternative materials and low-cost manufacturing methods. The photovoltaic community is actively researching thin-film solar cells based on amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride (CdTe), copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), and dye-sensitised and organic materials. However, progress has been slow due to a lack of proper understanding of the physics behind these devices.
This book concentrates on the latest developments and attempts to improve our understanding of solid-state device physics. The material presented is mainly experimental and based on CdTe thin-film solar cells. The author extends these new findings to CIGS thin-film solar cells and presents a new device design based on graded bandgap multi-layer solar cells. This design has been experimentally tested using the well-researched GaAs/AlGaAs system, and initial devices have shown impressive device parameters. These devices are capable of absorbing all radiation (UV, visible and infra-red) within the solar spectrum and combine "impact ionisation" and "impurity photovoltaic" effects.
The improved device understanding presented in this book should impact and guide future photovoltaic device development and low-cost thin-film solar panel manufacture. This new edition features an additional chapter besides exercises and their solutions, which will be useful for academics teaching in this field.