Aqueous synthesis of high-quality Cu2ZnSnS4 nanocrystals and their thermal annealing characteristics

Cameron Ritchie, Anthony S.R. Chesman, Mark Styles, Jacek J. Jasieniak, Paul Mulvaney

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Copper zinc tin sulfide (CZTS) nanocrystal inks are promising candidates for the development of cheap, efficient, scalable, and nontoxic photovoltaic (PV) devices. However, optimization of the synthetic chemistry to achieve these goals remains a key challenge. Herein we describe a single-step, aqueous-based synthesis that yields high-quality CZTS nanocrystal inks while also minimizing residual organic impurities. By exploiting simultaneous redox and crystal formation reactions, square-platelet-like CZTS nanocrystals stabilized by Sn2S6 4- and thiourea are produced. The CZTS synthesis is optimized by using a combination of inductively coupled plasma analysis, Raman spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and synchrotron powder X-ray diffraction to assess the versatility of the synthesis and identify suitable composition ranges for achieving phase-pure CZTS. It is found that mild heat treatment between 185 and 220 °C is most suitable for achieving this because this temperature range is sufficiently high to thermalize existing ligands and ink additives while minimizing tin loss, which is problematic at higher temperatures. The low temperatures required to process these nanocrystal inks to give CZTS thin films are readily amenable to production-scale processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1655-1665
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2018

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