Just before Christmas the first Danish researchers led by professor Jens Wenzel Andreasen from DTU Energy received data from experiments at MAX IV. The results will help to develop the next generation of solar cells.
"We applied for beamtime at the NanoMAX beamline during autumn 2016. This beamline has the highest resolution of the MAX IV beamlines. We managed to get beamtime at the facility on 21 December, just before the shut down for the Christmas holidays. The visit was very successful and we received data that will be included in our research concerning improvement of the power-producing layer of new types of solar cells, "says Jens Wenzel Andreasen.
"To be able to test MAX IV at an early stage gives us the opportunity to provide input and feedback that can be used to adjust the final commissioning of NanoMAX. The final commissioning is scheduled to the coming months, when the beamline is tested in terms of what works best for the materials to be examined as well as for the future users".
Cheaper and more energy-efficient solar cells
The Danish researchers examined the nanoscale distribution of elements in a thin film of kesterite during their visit to MAX IV. Kesterite is a mineral that occurs naturally in e.g. the Greenland bedrock, but it can also be synthetically prepared. Kesterite is created by a mix of copper, zinc, tin and sulphur and the researchers hope to use it for solar cells to absorb the sun's rays and convert them into energy. Compared to the materials currently used in solar cells, kesterite is cheaper, less energy-intensive to produce and do not contain either toxics or rare materials.
"The experiment at MAX IV allows us to see the distribution of substances in the kesterite layer. It will allow us to clarify how the ideal mixing ratio and the best production process should be to ensure getting the maximum energy from a kesterite solar cell, "explains Jens Wenzel Andreasen.
Jens Wenzel Andreasen believes that he and his colleagues in the field of materials research will conduct many more experiments at MAX IV in the future. When the facility is fully established, they will be able to make experiments and get results that they currently cannot get anywhere else in the world. In addition, experiments that may take hours to complete elsewhere, are performed at MAX IV within minutes.
Several major research projects are queuing up to conduct experiments at MAX IV, including the strategic research alliance CINEMA - the Alliance for imaging and modelling of energy applications, which is supported by the Danish Innovation Fund. CINEMA is led by Professor Jens Wenzel Andreasen and Professor Henning Friis Poulsen, DTU Physics, who is also chairman of the DanMAX steering committee - the upcoming Danish beamline at MAX IV.
Jens Wenzel Andreasen's research on third generation solar cells is funded by the European Research Council through an ERC Consolidator grant, SEEWHI - Solar Energy Enabled for the World by the High Resolution Imaging.