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Microbial Approach to Low-Cost Production of Photovoltaic Nanomaterials

  • Ji-Won Moon*
    Ji-Won Moon
    Biosciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), 1 Bethel Valley Road, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831, United States
    National Minerals Information Center, United States Geological Survey, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, Virginia 20192, United States
    *E-mail: [email protected]. Phone: (703) 648-7791. Fax: (703) 648-7737.
    More by Ji-Won Moon
  • Ilia N. Ivanov
    Ilia N. Ivanov
    Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), 1 Bethel Valley Road, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831, United States
  • Chad E. Duty
    Chad E. Duty
    Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering, University of Tennessee, 1512 Middle Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996, United States
    More by Chad E. Duty
  • Lonnie J. Love
    Lonnie J. Love
    Energy & Transportation Science Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), 1 Bethel Valley Road, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831, United States
  • , and 
  • Tommy J. Phelps
    Tommy J. Phelps
    Biosciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), 1 Bethel Valley Road, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831, United States
Cite this: ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2019, 7, 22, 18297–18302
Publication Date (Web):October 31, 2019
https://doi.org/10.1021/acssuschemeng.9b03269
Copyright © 2019 American Chemical Society

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    Abstract

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    Photovoltaic (PV)-generated electricity can participate in renewable grid parity after meeting conditions of low-cost PV materials and economic manufacturing of solar cells. Here, we report low-cost, scalable microbial synthesis of Cu(In,Ga)Se2 (CIGSe) and Cu(In,Ga)S2 (CIGS), which are among the promising candidates to serve as light absorbing layers in solar panels. Microbial synthesis uses reducible chalcophiles and empirically stoichiometric metal components to produce CIGSe and CIGS with band gaps and intra- and intercrystallite compositional homogeneity similar to that produced with traditional techniques. Importantly, microbially produced photovoltaic materials described herein use inexpensive precursor materials at moderate temperatures (65 °C). The microbially facilitated processes do not utilize high temperature, vacuum, or toxic organic solvents. The potential to upscale microbial synthesis without loss of material quality is demonstrated here, indicating a high potential for industrial applications of this technology for production of nanomaterials for PV applications. We estimate that a 50 000 gallon fermentor could generate about 100 kg/month of CIGSe nanoparticles, which could be processed into 0.2 MW of PV cells.

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    The Supporting Information is available free of charge on the ACS Publications website at DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.9b03269.

    • Confirmation of CIGSe and CIGS phases under various stoichiometries, bacteria, and reactor scale conditions with synthetic environments (PDF)

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    Cited By

    This article is cited by 1 publications.

    1. Essossimna Djatoubai, Jinzhan Su. First spray pyrolysis thin film fabrication of environment-friendly Cu2BaSnS4 (CBTS) nanomaterials. Chemical Physics Letters 2021, 770 , 138406. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cplett.2021.138406

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