Electrospun Composite Nanofiber Transparent Conductor Layer for Solar Cells

Abstract

Developing a durable and scalable transparent conductor (TC) as an electrode with high optical transmission and low sheet resistance is a significant opportunity for enabling next generation solar cell devices. High performance fibrous composite materials based on a carrier polymer with embedded functional nanostructures have the potential to serve as a TC with high surface area that can be deposited by the novel and scalable process of electrospinning. This work presents the development of a fibrous TC, where polyacrylonitrile (PAN) is used as a carrier polymer for multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) to create electroactive nanofibers 200-500nm in diameter. Once carbonized, thin layers of this material have a low sheet resistance and high optical transmission. It is shown that in a two stage carbonization process, the second stage temperature of above 700C is the primary factor in establishing a highly conductive material and single layers of nanofibers are typically destabilized at high temperatures. A high performance TC has been developed through optimizing carbonization rates and temperatures to allow for single nanofiber layers fabricated by electrospinning MWCNT/PAN solutions onto quartz. These TCs have been optimized for concentrations of MWCNTs less than 20% volume fraction with well above 90% transmissivity and sheet resistances of between .5-1kohm/square. The required MWCNT loading is well below that for TCs based on random networks of MWCNTs.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. 1.

    “How Long Will it Last?”. New Scientist 194 (2605): 38–39. May 26, 2007.

  2. 2.

    J. Kalowekamo, & E Baker . (2009). Estimating the manufacturing cost of purely organic solar cells. Solar Energy, 83(8), 1224–1231. Elsevier Ltd. doi:10.1016/j.solener.2009.02.003

  3. 3.

    Glatkowski et al., “ Carbon nanotube transparent electrodes: A case for photovoltaics,” in Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC), 2009 34th IEEE, pp. 001302–001305, 2010.

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    A. A. Green, & M. C Hersam . (2008). Colored Semitransparent Conductive Coatings Consisting of Monodisperse Metallic Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes. Nano Letters, 8(5), 1417–1422. doi:10.1021/nl080302f

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    S. De, P. E. Lyons, S. Sorel, E. M. Doherty, P. J. King, W. J. Blau, P. N. Nirmalraj, et al. (2009). Transparent, Flexible, and Highly Conductive Thin Films Based on Polymer−Nanotube Composites. ACS Nano, 3(3), 714–720. doi:10.1021/nn800858w

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    S. L. Hellstrom, H. W. Lee, & Z Bao . (2009). Polymer-Assisted Direct Deposition of Uniform Carbon Nanotube Bundle Networks for High Performance Transparent Electrodes. ACS Nano, 3(6), 1423–1430. doi:10.1021/nn9002456

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    F. K. Ko, & H Yang . (2008). Functional Nanofibre: Enabling Material for the Next Generations Smart Textiles. Journal of Fiber Bioengineering and Informatics, 1(2), 81–92. doi:10.3993/jfbi09200801

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    H. Hou, J. J. Ge, J. Zeng, Q. Li, D. H. Reneker, A. Greiner, & S. Z. D Cheng . (2005). Electrospun Polyacrylonitrile Nanofibers Containing a High Concentration of Well-Aligned Multiwall Carbon Nanotubes. Chemistry of Materials, 17(5), 967–973. doi:10.1021/cm0484955

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Justin Ritchie.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Ritchie, J., Mertens, J., Yang, H. et al. Electrospun Composite Nanofiber Transparent Conductor Layer for Solar Cells. MRS Online Proceedings Library 1323, 348 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1557/opl.2011.829

Download citation