Case ID: M13-205P^

Published: 2020-02-26 11:07:22

Last Updated: 1677135160


Nathan Newman
Mahmoud Vahidi
Stephen Lehner
Peter Buseck

Technology categories

Semiconductors, Materials & Processes

Technology keywords

Fuel Cells
Materials and Electronics

Licensing Contacts

Lillian Thompson
PS Consultant
[email protected]

Method to Produce Pyrite Semiconductor Materials

Although the cost of solar cells has dropped significantly in recent years, the largest barrier to the development of terawatt-sized, utility scale solar projects is cost. Many utility scale solar projects have been built from solar modules that utilize cadmium telluride, thin film materials. These modules are popular because they cost less than silicon products, but they degrade much faster. Cadmium telluride is a rare earth metal in limited supply. Currently, almost all of the material that is mined each year is used in manufacturing, limiting growth in the quantity of solar cells produced. Additionally, this material is toxic, and its use poses potential environmental hazards.

Researchers at Arizona State University have developed a method to produce pyrite semiconductor materials. Pyrite is an abundant element that is inexpensive to mine and easily purified. Use of this process and material pose no environmental hazards. The technique can produce high quality semiconductor film at relatively low temperatures; between 300° to 400°C. Pyrite is an excellent material for large area semiconductor application (including Photovoltaic) because it has a desirable 0.95 eV band gap and has a high absorption coefficient.

Potential Applications

  • Solar cells
  • Light emitting diodes
  • Semiconductors

Benefits and Advantages

  • Lower Costs – Basic earth element that is easy to find, mine, and purify
  • Larger Projects – Lower cost will speed adoption of terawatt, utility scale solar
  • Non-toxic – Poses no environmental hazards

For more information about the inventor(s) and their research, please see
Dr. Nathan Newman's directory webpage
Dr. Peter Buseck's directory webpage