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New efficiency record for flexible CIGS solar cells

By

May 20, 2011

Flexible thin film CIGS solar cell on polymer substrate developed at Empa (Photo: Empa)

Flexible thin film CIGS solar cell on polymer substrate developed at Empa (Photo: Empa)

Swiss researchers have claimed a new world record efficiency of 18.7% for flexible copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) solar cells on plastics. Flexible CIGS solar cells have the potential to drive down the price of solar electricity because they are cheaper to produce and this latest breakthrough brings them closer to the highest efficiency levels achieved by crystalline silicon and rigid CIGS cells.

"The new record value for flexible CIGS solar cells of 18.7% nearly closes the "efficiency gap" to solar cells based on polycrystalline silicon (Si) wafers or CIGS thin film cells on glass", says Ayodhya N. Tiwari, who heads-up the research team at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) Thin Film and Photovoltaics lab.

Beating the previous mark of 17.6% that the same team achieved in June 2010, the new record was made possible by continuing to refine the process for low-temperature growth of CIGS layers and in situ doping with sodium during the final stage of manufacture.

The Empa researchers say this is the first time that polymer films have been proven superior to metal foils (which require additional barrier coatings) as a substrate in terms of efficiency and believe that the results could pave the way for commercial production of CIGS solar modules with efficiencies above 16%. Start-up company FLISOM is working to bring the technology to market.

8 Comments

This is Great we need to up our Mass production of these and put them everywhere like car & boat roofs, among other places.

Shawn Paul Boike
20th May, 2011 @ 09:42 am PDT

Improved efficiency is nice, but I still waiting for cheep solar cells to hit the market.

Slowburn
20th May, 2011 @ 11:35 am PDT

I hope they are looking for alternatives to Indium in CIGS cells. Already it is becoming scare as it is used extensively in LCD display some say there is only around 13 years supply left.

Eletruk
20th May, 2011 @ 02:22 pm PDT

Theres plenty of indium, the worlds got a layer of it covering the whole surface when the dinosaurs died i believe. I might be wrong but im sure its an indium layer from that massive meteor.

mg
20th May, 2011 @ 10:46 pm PDT

So what is the most efficient solar cell percentage?

Be nice to see a comparison.

Stuart Halliday
22nd May, 2011 @ 03:25 am PDT

Yeah print it like news papers...... 50Km a day on a 2 meter wide strip. Sell for $20 a square meter or 200W of solar panel at 24V.

Mr Stiffy
22nd May, 2011 @ 08:59 pm PDT

Sell the solar cell at Zero cost. Have the customer pay for the energy they use. Sell the extra energy to the local power grid. Customer gets a guaranteed set price on the energy cost for 5 years at 40% savings to there current bill. After the fifth year the customer owns the product.

Robert DuBois
23rd May, 2011 @ 12:42 am PDT

Indium is indeed very rare. That is why it's cost has gone up 4X in the past few years. Research needs to find big indium deposits or an alternative so this technology can deal with the huge future demands with competitive prices. The massive meteor that mg writes about deposited iridium (Ir) not indium. Iridium is good for emitters in organic LED technology, so the meteor still had a bright side!

yep
23rd May, 2011 @ 08:12 pm PDT
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