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12 May 2006 β-FeSi2 as a Kankyo (environmentally friendly) semiconductor for solar cells in the space application
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β-FeSi2 defined as a Kankyo (Environmentally Friendly) semiconductor is regarded as one of the 3-rd generation semiconductors after Si and GaAs. Versatile features about β-FeSi2 are, i) high optical absorption coefficient (>105cm-1), ii) chemical stability at temperatures as high as 937°C, iii) high thermoelectric power (Seebeck coefficient of k ~ 10-4/K), iv) a direct energy band-gap of 0.85 eV, corresponding to 1.5μm of quartz optical fiber communication, v) lattice constant nearly well-matched to Si substrate, vi) high resistance against the humidity, chemical attacks and oxidization. Using β-FeSi2 films, one can fabricate various devices such as Si photosensors, solar cells and thermoelectric generators that can be integrated basically on Si-LSI circuits. β-FeSi2 has high resistance against the exposition of cosmic rays and radioactive rays owing to the large electron-empty space existing in the electron cloud pertinent to β-FeSi2. Further, the specific gravity of β-FeSi2 (4.93) is placed between Si (2.33) and GaAs ((5.33). These features together with the aforementioned high optical absorption coefficient are ideal for the fabrication of solar cells to be used in the space. To demonstrate fascinating capabilities of β-FeSi2, one has to prepare high quality β-FeSi2 films. We in this report summarize the current status of β-FeSi2 film preparation technologies. Modified MBE and facing-target sputtering (FTS) methods are principally discussed. High quality β-FeSi2 films have been formed on Si substrates by these methods. Preliminary structures of n-β-FeSi2 /p-Si and p-β-FeSi2 /n-Si solar cells indicated an energy conversion efficiency of 3.7%, implying that β-FeSi2 is practically a promising semiconductor for a photovoltaic device.
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Yunosuke Makita, Teruhisa Ootsuka, Yasuhiro Fukuzawa, Naotaka Otogawa, Hironori Abe, Zhengxin Liu, and Yasuhiko Nakayama "β-FeSi2 as a Kankyo (environmentally friendly) semiconductor for solar cells in the space application", Proc. SPIE 6197, Photonics for Solar Energy Systems, 61970O (12 May 2006);

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