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Transparent conducting oxides for advanced photovoltaic applications

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By John D. Perkins, Senior Scientist, National Renewable Energy Laboratory; David S. Ginley, Group Manager, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Transparent conducting oxides (TCOs) are a special class of materials that can simultaneously be both optically transparent and electrically conducting and, as such, are a critical component in most thin-film photovoltaics. TCOs are generally based on a limited class of metal oxide semiconductors such In2O3, ZnO and SnO2, which are transparent due to their large band gap energy and can also tolerate very high electronic doping concentrations to yield conductivities of 1000S/cm or higher. However, these thee basic TCOs alone do not meet the TCO performance needs of emerging PV and other applications.

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