Computational Studies of Sulphide-Based Semiconductor Materials for Inorganic Thin-Film Photovoltaics

  • Jesse Dufton

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


New thin-film solar cell materials and a greater understanding of their properties are needed to meet the urgent demand for sustainable, lower-cost and scalable photovoltaics. Computational techniques have been used to investigate Cu2ZnSnS4, CuSbS2 and CuBiS2 , which are potential absorber layer materials in thin-film photovoltaics. Their low cost, low toxicity and their constituent’s relative abundance make them suitable replacements for current thin-film absorbers, which are CdTe or Cu(In, Ga)(S, Se)2 based systems. Firstly, we have used hybrid Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations to study CuSbS2 and CuBiS2. We calculate bandgaps of 1.69 eV and 1.55 eV respectively, placing CuBiS2 within the optimal range for a viable absorber material. The density of states for both these materials indicate that formation of electron hole charge carriers will occur in the Cu d10 band. Consequently, photoexcitation leads to the oxidation of Cu(I). Secondly, we have derived interatomic potentials which describe the complex structure of Cu2ZnSnS4 accurately. We find that the Cu/Zn antisite defect represents the lowest energy form of intrinsic defect disorder. For these antisite defects, we find a preference for small neutral defect clusters, which suggests a degree of self-passivation exists.Investigations of Cu-ion transport find VCu migration is possible via a vacancy hopping mechanism. There are pathways which can be connected to give 3D long-range diffusion. Investigations of the Cu/Zn site disorder in Cu2ZnSnS4 find that configurations which are kesterite-like will dominate synthetic samples. However, perfectly ordered kesterite will not be formed due to entropic effects. The simulations indicate the stannite and stannite-like polymorphs are less favourable, and can only accountfor ≈2.5% of a sample. Investigations of the surfaces of Cu2ZnSnS4, suggest that the vast majority of the low index surfaces are dipolar and that only the (1 1 2), (0 1 0) and (1 0 1) surfaces have low surface energies.
Date of Award1 Nov 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorMuhammed Islam (Supervisor)


  • Cu2ZnSnS4
  • CuSbS2
  • CuBiS2
  • DFT
  • solar cells
  • photovoltaics
  • thin-film
  • site occupancy disorder
  • hybrid functionals

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