European Union allocates 10 million Euros to thin film solar cell project

Zinc oxide nano-rods as anti-reflective coating on a CIGSe solar cell.<br />©HZB

Zinc oxide nano-rods as anti-reflective coating on a CIGSe solar cell.

European research consortium's German partners to include Berlin's Helmholtz Centre and Free University

In the context of its 7th annual 'Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development,' the European Union has approved funding in excess of 10 million Euros for the thin film solar cell project "Scalenano" through 2015. Thirteen different European research groups will collaborate on co-developing chalcogenide solar cell technology with the common goal of cutting production costs while using nanostructured materials to increase thin film module efficiency. The consortium will include Germany's Helmholtz Centre Berlin (HZB) and the Free University of Berlin.

To date, copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGSe) has proved the most efficient of the chalcogenide materials. Traditionally, a process known as vacuum coating has been used to deposit several layers of CIGSe a few micrometers thick onto a glass or foil surface. In an effort to cut costs, one of this European collaborative's many goals includes development of new, environmentally-friendly production methods that are vacuum-independent.

Using new material and building element concepts including use of nanostructured materials, the goal is to bring about a breakthrough increase in efficiency. Through the electrochemical synthesis of nanocrystalline precursors and using new techniques for printing nano particles - similar to the way ink is used in printing - the researchers hope to tap new methods of production. To ensure its success beyond the laboratory setting (which normally uses only a few, isolated solar cells), the scientists aim to test production concepts for purposes of a potential upscale.

Headed by Dr. Thomas Unold, the HZB team's main focus will be on quality control and process monitoring. Development of innovative analytical tools for solar cell characterization during production is already under way. The scientists are hopeful that they will ultimately be able to use these tools to improve the quality of the chalcogenide absorptive material while ensuring high yield and high performance during the upscale.

The new research strategy will also combine thin film absorptive materials with nanostructured transparent conductive oxides (TCOs). In this area of research, the team led jointly by Professor Martha Lux-Steiner and Dr. Sophie Gledhill of the Free University of Berlin and HZB, respectively, are working on adapting, optimizing, and optically modeling zinc oxide nanoarray coated chalcogenide solar cells.

The Berlin-based researchers are also hard at work on the next-generation chalcogenide thin film materials known as kesterides - materials with properties similar to CIGSe albeit minus the indium component, an element, which occurs only rarely in the Earth's crust.


You might also be interested in

  • Quantsol Summer School 2024 - Call for Application
    Quantsol Summer School 2024 - Call for Application
    Registration for Quantsol is now open!

    The International Summer School on Photovoltaics and New Concepts of Quantum Solar Energy Conversion (Quantsol) will be held in September 1-8, 2024 in Hirschegg, Kleinwalsertal, Austria. The school is organised by the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin and the Technical University of Ilmenau. Applications can be submitted through the school’s homepage until Friday 31st of May 2024, 23.59h CET.

  • A simpler way to inorganic perovskite solar cells
    Science Highlight
    A simpler way to inorganic perovskite solar cells
    Inorganic perovskite solar cells made of CsPbI3 are stable over the long term and achieve good efficiencies. A team led by Prof. Antonio Abate has now analysed surfaces and interfaces of CsPbI3 films, produced under different conditions, at BESSY II. The results show that annealing in ambient air does not have an adverse effect on the optoelectronic properties of the semiconductor film, but actually results in fewer defects. This could further simplify the mass production of inorganic perovskite solar cells.
  • Vortrag "BIPV - zwischen Bauwelt und Photovoltaik"
    Vortrag "BIPV - zwischen Bauwelt und Photovoltaik"
    Im Rahmen der The smarter-e Europe/Intersolar Europe 2024 findet eine Vortragssession organisiert von der Allianz BIPV und dem Solarenergieförderverein Bayern e.V. zum Thema "Bauwerkintegrierte Photovoltaik (BIPV)" statt.

    Datum: 19. Juni 2024, 16:00 -17:45 Uhr
    Ort:       Messe München, Halle A3, Stand A3.150