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Strongly Enhanced Photovoltaic Performance and Defect Physics of Air-Stable Bismuth Oxyiodide (BiOI)

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Hoye, RLZ 
Lee, LC 
Kurchin, RC 
Huq, TN 
Zhang, KHL 


Bismuth-based compounds have recently gained increasing attention as potentially nontoxic and defect-tolerant solar absorbers. However, many of the new materials recently investigated show limited photovoltaic performance. Herein, one such compound is explored in detail through theory and experiment: bismuth oxyiodide (BiOI). BiOI thin films are grown by chemical vapor transport and found to maintain the same tetragonal phase in ambient air for at least 197 d. The computations suggest BiOI to be tolerant to antisite and vacancy defects. All-inorganic solar cells (ITO|NiOx|BiOI|ZnO|Al) with negligible hysteresis and up to 80% external quantum efficiency under select monochromatic excitation are demonstrated. The short-circuit current densities and power conversion efficiencies under AM 1.5G illumination are nearly double those of previously reported BiOI solar cells, as well as other bismuth halide and chalcohalide photovoltaics recently explored by many groups. Through a detailed loss analysis using optical characterization, photoemission spectroscopy, and device modeling, direction for future improvements in efficiency is provided. This work demonstrates that BiOI, previously considered to be a poor photocatalyst, is promising for photovoltaics.



air-stability, bismuth oxyiodide, defect-tolerance, ns2 compounds, photovoltaics

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Advanced Materials

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EPSRC (1647980)
R.L.Z.H. thanks Magdalene College, Cambridge. L.C.L. and J.L.M.-D. thank the EPRSC Centre for Doctoral Training: New and Sustainable Photovoltaics, and the Cambridge Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability for funding. T.N.H. thanks the Cambridge Graphene Centre, funded by the EPSRC. K.H.L.Z. was supported by the Herschel Smith fellowship. The U.S.-based theory and synthesis portions of this work were supported primarily as part of the Center for Next Generation Materials by Design (CNGMD), an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the DOE Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences under Contract No. DE-AC36-08GO28308. The MIT-based characterization portion of this work was supported primarily through a TOTAL SA research grant funded through MITei, as well as a SusChem grant funded by the National Science Foundation (No. CBET-1605495). The TCSPC work was supported as part of the Center for Excitonics, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Award No. DE-SC0001088 (MIT). The computations were performed using resources sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and located at the NREL. The authors also acknowledge the MRSEC Shared Experimental Facilities at MIT, supported by the National Science Foundation (No. DMF-08019762).
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