Highest-efficiency flexible thin-film solar cells

January 21, 2013

High-efficiency flexible solar cells (credit: Empa)

Scientists at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, have developed thin-film solar cells on flexible polymer foils with a new record efficiency of 20.4%.

The cells are based on CIGS  (copper indium gallium (di)selenide) semiconducting material.

Thin-film, lightweight, flexible high-performance solar modules are attractive for solar farms, roofs and facades of buildings, automobiles, and portable electronics and can be produced using continuous roll-to-roll manufacturing processes that offer further cost reductions compared to standard silicon technologies.

“The next step will be to scale up the roll-to-roll manufacturing process with an industrial partner,” Flisom, says Empa Director Gian-Luca Bona.

The research is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI), the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) and the EU Framework Programmes.

UPDATE Jan. 23, 2013: “There are estimates suggesting that high efficiency flexible CIGS solar cells when produced on large scale industrial plants can potentially lead to manufacturing costs below $ 0.60/Watt. However, to achieve this some challenges have to be overcome. — Ayodhya N. Tiwari,Ayodyha N. Tiwari, Empa Laboratory for Thin Film and Photovoltaics team leader