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New Semiconductor Material For Solar Cell Technology: Zinc And Tin

First Posted: Nov 05, 2015 12:50 PM EST

Researchers are now using zinc and tin as semiconductor material for solar cell technology. These abundant elements can be "tuned" and used in solar cells instead of using rare and expensive materials, according to researchers at the University of Liverpool, in the UK.

Semiconductors are essential to the world of electronics. Their uses vary from smart phones to solar panels, however, they use rare elements, which are expensive and not readily available.

The researchers at the University of Liverpool created a new compound using zinc tin nitride (ZnSnN2), which could be used as the new semiconductor material for solar cell technology, according to a news release. The researchers discovered that the new compound has an innovative tuning process, wherein its band gap could be "tuned" by introducing zinc and tin atoms randomly among its normal crystalline lattice, altering its composition. Originally, the researchers believed ZnSnN2's band gap to be too large for solar cell application.

"Such tuneability is typically achieved in other material systems by alloying or blending in other elements to obtain the desired result. However, this is not necessary with ZnSnN2, given the recent discovery," Tim Veal, researcher of the study from the university's Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy, said.

Veal claimed that this discovery is paving the way for the new material to be considered for solar cell applications.

This study was published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

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