Materials & Coatings

Making Single-Source Precursors of Ternary Semiconductors

Commercially available reagents are used in a simplified synthesis. &A synthesis route has been developed for the commercial manufacture of single- source precursors of chalcopyrite semiconductor absorber layers of thin-film solar photovoltaic cells. The semiconductors in question are denoted by the general formula CuInxGa1–xSySe2–y, where 0≤x≤1 and 0≤y≤1.

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Water-Free Proton-Conducting Membranes for Fuel Cells

Fuel cells could be operated at higher temperatures for greater efficiency. Poly-4 -vinylpyridinebisulfate (P4VPBS) is a polymeric salt that has shown promise as a water-free proton-conducting material (solid electrolyte) suitable for use in membrane/electrode assemblies in fuel cells. Heretofore, proton-conducting membranes in fuel cells have been made from perfluorinated ionomers that cannot conduct protons in the absence of water and, consequently, cannot function at temperatures >100 °C. In addition, the stability of perfluorinated ionomers at temperatures >100 °C is questionable. However, the performances of fuel cells of the power systems of which they are parts could be improved if operating temperatures could be raised above 140 °C. What is needed to make this possible is a solidelectrolyte material, such as P4VPBS, that can be cast into membranes and that both retains proton conductivity and remains stable in the desired higher operating temperature range.

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Removing Bioactive Contaminants by Use of Atomic Oxygen

Bioactive contaminants are removed without using liquid chemical baths or high temperatures. A method of removing endotoxins and other biologically active organic compounds from the surfaces of solid objects is based on exposure of the objects to monatomic oxygen generated in oxygen plasmas. The mon- atomic oxygen reacts strongly and preferentially with the organic contaminants to form volatile chemical species. The method was developed especially for removing such contaminants as lipopolysaccharides, proteins, lipids, and other biologically active contaminants from surfaces of orthopedic implants prior to sterilization and implantation; if not removed, these con- taminants can contribute to inflammation that sometimes necessitates the surgical removal of the implants.

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Glass/BNNT Composite for Sealing Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

Boron nitride nanotubes contribute to strength and fracture toughness. A material consisting of a barium calcium aluminosilicate glass reinforced with 4 weight percent of boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) has shown promise for use as a sealant in planar solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). The composition of the glass in question in mole percentages is 35BaO + 15CaO + 5Al2O3 + 10B2O3 + 35SiO2. The glass was formulated to have physical and chemical properties suitable for use as a planar- SOFC sealant, but has been found to be deficient in one aspect: it is susceptible to cracking during thermal cycling of the fuel cells. The goal in formulating the glass/BNNT composite material was to (1) retain the physical and chemical advantages that led to the prior selection of the barium calcium aluminosilicate glass as the sealant while (2) increasing strength and fracture toughness so as to reduce the tendency toward cracking.

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Improved Single-Source Precursors for Solar-Cell Absorbers

Deposition properties and final compositions can be tailored. Improved single-source precursor compounds have been invented for use in spray chemical vapor deposition (spray CVD) of chalcopyrite semiconductor absorber layers of thin-film solar photovoltaic cells. The semiconductors in question are denoted by the general formula CuInxGa1–xSySe2–y, where x≤1 and y≤2. These semiconductors have been investigated intensively for use in solar cells because they exhibit longterm stability and a high degree of tolerance of radiation, and their bandgaps correlate well with the maximum photon power density in the solar spectrum. In addition, through selection of the proportions of Ga versus In and S versus Se, the bandgap of CuInxGa1–xSySe2–y can be tailored to a value between 1.0 and 2.4 eV, thus making it possible to fabricate cells containing high and/or graded bandgaps.

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Spray CVD for Making Solar-Cell Absorber Layers

Spray CVD combines the advantages of metalorganic CVD and spray pyrolysis. Spray chemical vapor deposition (spray CVD) processes of a special type have been investigated for use in making CuInS2 absorber layers of thin-film solar photovoltaic cells from either of two subclasses of precursor compounds: [(PBu3) 2Cu(SEt)2In(SEt)2] or [(PPh3)2Cu(SEt)2 In(SEt)2] . CuInS2 is a member of the class of chalcopyrite semiconductors described in the immediately preceding article. [(PBu3)2Cu(SEt)2In(SEt)2] and [(PPh3)2 Cu(SEt)2In(SEt)2] are members of the class of single-source precursors also described in the preceding article.

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Making Ternary Quantum Dots From Single-Source Precursors

Relative to a prior process, this process is simpler and safer. A process has been devised for making ternary (specifically, CuInS2) nanocrystals for use as quantum dots (QDs) in a contemplated next generation of highefficiency solar photovoltaic cells. The process parameters can be chosen to tailor the sizes (and, thus, the absorption and emission spectra) of the QDs.

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