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Performance Enhancement of a Graphene-Zinc Phosphide Solar Cell Using the Electric Field-Effect

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journal contribution
posted on 13.08.2014 by Oscar Vazquez-Mena, Jeffrey P. Bosco, O. Ergen, Haider I. Rasool, Aidin Fathalizadeh, Mahmut Tosun, Michael Crommie, Ali Javey, Harry A. Atwater, Alex Zettl
The optical transparency and high electron mobility of graphene make it an attractive material for photovoltaics. We present a field-effect solar cell using graphene to form a tunable junction barrier with an Earth-abundant and low cost zinc phosphide (Zn3P2) thin-film light absorber. Adding a semitransparent top electrostatic gate allows for tuning of the graphene Fermi level and hence the energy barrier at the graphene-Zn3P2 junction, going from an ohmic contact at negative gate voltages to a rectifying barrier at positive gate voltages. We perform current and capacitance measurements at different gate voltages in order to demonstrate the control of the energy barrier and depletion width in the zinc phosphide. Our photovoltaic measurements show that the efficiency conversion is increased 2-fold when we increase the gate voltage and the junction barrier to maximize the photovoltaic response. At an optimal gate voltage of +2 V, we obtain an open-circuit voltage of Voc = 0.53 V and an efficiency of 1.9% under AM 1.5 1-sun solar illumination. This work demonstrates that the field effect can be used to modulate and optimize the response of photovoltaic devices incorporating graphene.