Date of Award

Summer 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Rakesh Agrawal

Committee Chair

Rakesh Agrawal

Committee Member 1

Bryan Boudouris

Committee Member 2

Michael Harris


Research in thin film solar cells applies novel techniques to synthesize cost effective and highly efficient absorber materials in order to generate electricity directly from solar energy. Of these materials, copper zinc tin sulfoselenide (Cu2ZnSn(SxSe1-x) 4) nanoparticles have shown great promise in solar cell applications due to optimal material properties as well as low cost & relative abundance of materials.1,2 Sulfoselenide nanoparticles have also a broader impact in other industries including electronics3, LED 4, and biomedical research5. Of the many routes of manufacturing these class of semiconductors, colloidal synthesis of Cu 2ZnSn(SxSe1-x)4 offers a scalable, low cost and high-throughput route for manufacturing high efficiency thin-film solar cells. Hydrazine processed Cu2ZnSn(SxSe1-x )4 devices have reached a record power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 12.6%, much higher than the 9.6% reported for physical vapor deposition (PVD) systems.6,7^ Despite high efficiencies, wet synthesis of nanoparticles, however, is made more complicated in multi-element, quaternary and quinary systems such as copper zinc tin sulfoselenide (CZTSSe) and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGSe). One major disadvantage in these systems is growth of the desired quaternary or quinary phase in competition with unwanted binary and ternary phases with low energy of formation.8,9 Moreover, various reaction parameters such as reaction time, temperature, and choice of ligand also affect, chemical as well as physical properties of resulting nanoparticles.^ Understanding of the formation mechanisms of the particles is necessary in order to address some of these challenges in wet synthesis of CZTSSe nanoparticles. In this study, we investigate synthesis conditions & reaction parameters which yield high purity Cu2ZnSn(SxSe1-x) 4 nanoparticles as well as attempt to understand the growth mechanism of these nanoparticles. This was achieved by manipulating anion precursor preparation routes as well order in which precursors are introduced into a reaction system. We report a new solution based sulfoselenide preparation route which has been used to synthesize high purity Cu2ZnSn(S xSe1-x)4 nanoparticles. Uniform phase Cu 2ZnSn(SxSe1-x)4nanoparticles were successfully synthesized over a wide range of varying chalcogen ratios. It was found that anion precursor solution plays a key role in determining the morphology & phase purity of the final nanoparticles, as observed from X-ray Diffraction (XRD) and Raman spectroscopy. A uniform sulfoselenide solution is needed to produce high purity Cu2ZnSn(SxSe1-x )4nanoparticles with narrow phase distribution. Moreover, the relative reactivity of each anion must be balanced in order to yield uniform phase nanoparticles. The findings of this study as well as the reported mixed chalcogen precursor preparation route can be applied in various industries, including photovoltaics to produce uniform phase, solution processed sulfoselenide nanoparticles.