Although a promising photovoltaic material that is inexpensive and easy to manufacture, Cu2ZnSnS4 (CZTS) suffers from a low open circuit voltage thought to be due to local potential fluctuations caused by a disordered Cu/Zn sublattice. The disordered character of CZTS is difficult to study experimentally and has been universally neglected in computational studies. Here, we develop a cluster expansion model that enables simulation of the order-disorder phase transition in CZTS for the first time. With a proper atomic structure of the disordered phase in hand, we investigate the temperature-dependent voltage loss in CZTS, illustrating intrinsic limitations of existing synthesis methods and suggesting an optimal annealing temperature. We offer one explanation why Cu-poor CZTS is optimally efficient, as Cu vacancies increase the band gap via interactions between free carriers and the disordered nature of as-grown CZTS. Accordingly, increasing carrier concentrations may be an effective strategy to flatten the fluctuating potentials.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Materials Chemistry