Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Understanding what makes a thin film solar cell efficient

Date:
November 5, 2013
Source:
Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA)
Summary:
Scientists have developed a new technique for manufacturing high-efficiency, flexible, thin film solar cells from CIGS (copper indium gallium di-selenide) semiconductors. This has enabled them to achieve an efficiency of 20.4 percent for the conversion of sunlight into electrical energy. As the solar cells are deposited onto plastic foils, they could be produced on an industrial scale using cost-effective roll-to-roll manufacturing.

Empa scientists have developed a new technique for manufacturing high-efficiency, flexible, thin film solar cells from CIGS (copper indium gallium di-selenide) semiconductors. This has enabled them to achieve an efficiency of 20.4% for the conversion of sunlight into electrical energy. As the solar cells are deposited onto plastic foils, they could be produced on an industrial scale using cost-effective roll-to-roll manufacturing.

For many years scientists and engineers have been trying to provide low-cost solar energy by developing a cheap solar cell that is both highly efficient and at the same time simple to build, enabling it to be mass produced. Now, the team led by Empa researcher Ayodhya N. Tiwari has made a major leap forward: the researchers are presenting a new manufacturing technique for CIGS solar cells, in which tiny quantities of sodium and potassium are incorporated into the CIGS layer. The special treatment alters the chemical composition of the complex sandwich structure -- thereby altering its electronic properties, as confirmed by various methods including detailed electron microscope investigations. Details of the new method have now been published as an "Advance Online Publication" in the journal "Nature Materials."

With this technique, the Empa team has again been able to significantly increase the energy conversion efficiency from sunlight into electricity using CIGS thin film solar cells on flexible plastic foils -- to a new record level of 20.4%, representing a marked improvement over the previous record of 18.7% established by the same team in May 2011. This finally enables CIGS cells to compete with the best polycrystalline silicon cells. Until recently, the Empa CIGS cells were the most efficient in the world; at the end of October, though, a German research team at the Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung (ZSW) in Stuttgart presented CIGS cells with an efficiency of 20.8%, although they use far higher processing temperatures and (rigid) glass as the substrate. The slightly improved record shows that CIGS thin film technologies are a "hot" topic -- and that Empa is right at the cutting edge.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Adrian Chirilă, Patrick Reinhard, Fabian Pianezzi, Patrick Bloesch, Alexander R. Uhl, Carolin Fella, Lukas Kranz, Debora Keller, Christina Gretener, Harald Hagendorfer, Dominik Jaeger, Rolf Erni, Shiro Nishiwaki, Stephan Buecheler, Ayodhya N. Tiwari. Potassium-induced surface modification of Cu(In,Ga)Se2 thin films for high-efficiency solar cells. Nature Materials, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nmat3789

Cite This Page:

Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA). "Understanding what makes a thin film solar cell efficient." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131105112647.htm>.
Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA). (2013, November 5). Understanding what makes a thin film solar cell efficient. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131105112647.htm
Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA). "Understanding what makes a thin film solar cell efficient." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131105112647.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) — A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) — Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins