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Photovoltaic, thermoelectric and sensing application

Maurizio Acciarri, Simona Binetti, Dario Narducci

Silicon nanotechnology for thermoelectricity and sensing

Silicon is certainly the most studied and best understood of all materials, both technologically and as of its fundamental properties. Nanostructuring it using both bottom-up and top-down methods further extends silicon usability. Over the last years methods have been developed to obtain silicon nanowires and nanolayers and to graft organic moieties onto silicon surfaces as well. Such methods have been deployed in a host of directions, including gas sensing and surface protection. Research on silicon-based nanotechnology is currently oriented along two main lines, namely (a) the development of  silicon-based thermoelectric devices to generate electric power from low-enthalpy heat; and (b) the making of biosensors based on single-crystal and polycrystalline silicon nanowires and nanolayers.


Inorganic semiconductor thin film for photovoltaic application

A new and original  method for chalcogenide thin film (CIGS) deposition on glass and flexible substrates based on a sputtering process has been recently developed  in collaboration with a small enterprise.  Up to now the process has been optimized for CIGS films with a thickness of around 2 micron obtaining a cell efficiency of 14% on glass and 11.9 % on stainless steel substrate, respectively . In the last year a new activity has been started regarding  a possible alternative to CIGS PV thin film where more abundant and less expensive elements like Zn and Sn are used in place of In and Ga:  Cu2ZnSnS4 (CZTS). Two main  growth deposition methods are under investigation and testing: sputtering process  and  chemical method (i.e dip coating, spray pirolysis)

Silicon for solar cell

The properties of defects in silicon have been studied for more than twenty years with substantial contributions to today knowledge of the mc-Si solar cells.  Since 1990, the group has  been involved in many European Renewable Energy Projects. Recently, under the realistic assumption that Si-wafer based PV modules will dominate the market in the coming decade, we focused on the characterization of low price and high quality solar grade silicon feedstock and on new initiatives to harvest incident photons with greater efficiency based on down shifting approach.