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Commercial status of thin-film photovoltaic

devices and materials
Johanna Schmidtke*
Lux Research Inc., 234 Congress Street, Fifth and Sixth Floors, Boston, MA 02110, USA

Abstract: We present a review of commercial thin-film photovoltaic (PV)
technologies and products. After a brief introduction of recent dynamics in
the on-grid PV market, we provide an overview of commercial thin-film
silicon, cadmium telluride, copper indium gallium diselenide, and organic
PV modules – including representative efficiencies, deposition processes,
module form factors, and nominal production capacities available for
production today. Finally, we discuss the technical, production, and market
targets of thin-film PV module developers.
©2010 Optical Society of America
OCIS codes: (350.6050) Solar energy; (310.6845) Thin film devices and applications.

References and links
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#131601 - $15.00 USD

(C) 2010 OSA

Received 13 Jul 2010; revised 25 Aug 2010; accepted 25 Aug 2010; published 10 Sep 2010

13 September 2010 / Vol. 18, No. S3 / OPTICS EXPRESS A477

Module Cost and Systems. R.00 USD (C) 2010 OSA Received 13 Jul 2010. Product datasheet. G. Probst. Gillete. “WavSol Light 24-volt Specification Sheet. 21–25 Sept.” Sol. M. and W.pdf. 30. http://www. 38. “Q1 2010 Performance Summary. 29–30 July 2010. Global Solar press release. and K. F.S.solarfrontier. www. 52. April 2010. accessed on 12 July 2010. V. “Obsidian CIS thin film module C100-A1.” 12 May 2010.” PV-tech.calyxo. B. www. 24. “High-efficiency CDTE and CIGS thin-film solar cells: highlights and challenges.nanosolar.” Ascent Solar. Osborne. 49.” presented at the 24th. Noufi.miasole. Lux Research analysis of data Capital IQ. A. Green. Res. www. 2009. 9 Sept.” presented in Leipzig. Neumann.S. www. Gerlach. Primestar Solar press release. Becomes Majority Shareholder in Emerging Solar Technology . 34. published 10 Sep 2010 13 September 2010 / Vol. #131601 . www.” 11 Jun.” Pvtech. U.” Conference Record of the 2006 IEEE 4th World Conference on Photovoltaic Energy Conversion (Waikoloa. Product datasheet. Constantine. and Project Update. Hergert. 2010. Soare. http://www. Appl. Hamburg. Hawaii. Hawkins. July 2010. European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference. 25. “Q-Cells Annual General Meeting. More Efficient: Manufacturing Equipment Drives Thin Film Silicon PV Growth. 39. Thyen. “SF 140 Photovoltaic module preliminary data.pdf. 2009. “SF70-US-B” and “SF85-US-B. 48.”Calyxo GmbH. Market.” Q-Cells Presentation Annual Report 2009. http://investors.A. Batereau-Neumann.nanosolar.” presented at the Photovoltaic Summit 2010. www. accepted 25 Aug 2010. R. A. Product No.pdf 51. B. C.qcells. “Thinner. U.html. B. 5–6 May 2010. www. Mar.lgprogram. and A.johanna-solar. 46.qcells.” 25 Feb. pp 317– “NREL says Global Solar first to exceed 13% efficiencies for CIGS on flex stainlesssteel substrate. 2009. accessed on 12 July 2010.pdf. Windeck.pvtech. 33.” Lux Research.capitaliq. accessed on 12 July 2010. 35. 36. 32. U.” Solar Frontier. “CIS competition with other thin film technologies.” 10 Jun. Energy 77(6). Hishikawa. accessed on 12 July 2010. Dimmler.” Nanosolar Inc. Solyndra press release. 2010.$15.pdf 37.gunam. “Energy Conversion Devices Technology Roadmap Update. B. “Powermax “Solyndra breaks ground on new 500 MW solar plant. “Miasolé sets world record for highest efficiency of commercial scale thin-film solar modules. 2010. June “Sharp starts production at 1 GW capacity thin-film plant. 2010. www. “ Warta. accessed on 12 July 2010. Germany on 24 29. Osborn. Miasolé press release. www.” Jun. U. 18.” 4 Sept. Schmidtke. revised 25 Aug 2010.pdf 31.ascentsolar. K. 24 “Q-Cells SE Financial year 2009. San 50. Sohn. 45.0.A. Letzig. Department of Energy press release.” presented at the 1st Turkish Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition.Smart 70-90.” Prog.pdf. June 2010.pv-tech.. “Scaling up CdTe supply and demand.www. 803–814 (2004).” First Solar Q1 2010 Earnings Call. accessed on 12 July 2010. Sullivan.metu. Nanosolar press release.. “Nanosolar utility panel. Market.solyndra. Photovolt. 40. Product datasheet. J. “CDTE thin film solar model CX1. May X.” Q-Cells. “Q2 2010 Performance Summary. Zweibel. Gillete.johanna-solar.ascentsolar.pdf. San Diego.globalsolar. http://www. “Sharp to produce tandem a-Si thin film cells with 10% conversion efficiencies. Faster. March 2010.3_03-2010. www. accessed on 12 July 2010.cfm?ReleaseID=468941. 27. 22. Las Vegas. 2009. Ascent Solar press “Nanosolar completes panel factory. www.. Product datasheet. T. Germany.uni-solar. “President Obama Announces $400 million Conditional Commitment Offer to Support Solar Panel Manufacturing. 47. Walther. Product datasheet.” AVANCIS GmbH. J. NV. 18(2). M.” Energy Conversion Devices” First Solar Q2 2010 Earnings Call.S. S3 / OPTICS EXPRESS A478 .” presented at the Photovoltaics Summit 2010. CA. “Sustainability. accessed on 12 July 2010.” Solar Frontier.” First Solar Analyst/Investor Meeting. www. commences serial production. 2006).com/datasheets/.” Johanna Solar Technology. “Lux Research Solar Supply Tracker. “Solar cell efficiency tables (version 35). Product datasheet..S. “High-efficiency polycrystalline CdTe thin-film solar cells. www. 44. www. and Project Product datasheet. 2008. “GE becomes majority shareholder in emerging solar technology company. “Ascent Solar commences initial production from its FAB 2 production plant. Wu.21. www. 144–150 (2010). “High performance CIS solar modules: Status of production and development at Johanna Solar Technology. 26.qcells.” 9 Sept. CA. 28.pdf. 43. A. R. rising to 12%.

module form factors.3] opened the opportunity for residential. TF-Si developers have the longest history of commercial production among thin-film PV technologies on the market today. tandem-junction microcrystalline silicon-amorphous silicon (commonly #131601 . In early 2008. “Facts and figures about Würth Solar.heliatek.html.php/show/media/import/solar/2010/MAI10_Daten_Fakten_Wuerth_Solar_EN. A. 54. Tenent. www. Rowlen. Konarka press release. www. The introduction of feed-in-tariff (FiT) schemes in Germany [1] and Spain [2. ingot. 56. www. Within this dynamic background. and nominal production capacities of the commercial thin-film PV market. 2010. H. hits NREL-certified 7. www. Introduction Driven by government incentives and subsidies. T. 55.pdf. some thin-film PV firms have achieved significant commercial success. commercial. 243304 (2008). the multi-billion-dollar PV opportunity drew the attention of venture capital (VC) and private equity firms. including single-junction amorphous silicon (a-Si). wafer. Reilly. To date.” Appl.9%. By late 2008. 2. alone [4]. 92(24). Rev. b) the sudden introduction of a 500 MW limit to Spain’s FiT program for PV.opvtoday. and module producers) and has led to the high-value initial public offerings (IPOs) of firms such as Q-Cells (€242 million) in 2005 and Wacker Chemie (€153 million) in 2007.00 USD (C) 2010 OSA Received 13 Jul 2010. 2009.S. As a complete survey of all thin-film PV 1developers is too lengthy for the scope of this review.” 4 Sept. accessed on 12 July 2010. however. In addition. 61. copper indium gallium diselenide. G24 Innovations press release. Phys.g24i. accepted 25 Aug 2010. 2009. Despite advances in efficiency and production cost by the incumbent x-Si manufacturers over the past decade. Presentations from the Organic PV Solar Summit Japan 09. 2354–2371 (2010).. and c) the global financial crisis led to an oversupply within the PV market. 2–3 Sept. J. x-Si PV module pricing fell between 40% and 50% from late 2008 to early 2010. “National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) certifies Konarka’s photovoltaic solar cells at 6. 57. dualjunction a-Si/a-Si. J. cell. J.” accessed on July 12. van de Lagemaat.” 19 May 2009. This review will survey the commercial status of thin-film PV technologies on the market today. www.php/site/pressreleasedetail/national_energy_renewable_laboratory_nrel_certifies_kona rkas_photovoltaic_s. www. 58.wuerthsolar. while high-purity polysilicon sold for more than $400/kg [5].” 2 Dec. cadmium telluride. “Semiconducting polymers: the Third Generation. deposition processes.7]. drove demand for PV products. industrial. and financial investors to profit from solar installations. the combination of a) the rapid expansion of capacity in the crystalline silicon value chain from 2006. and VC investors pulled back from the field [5]. 2009. 60. “Surface-plasmon enhanced transparent electrodes in organic photovoltaics. 18.4% record efficiency.172. A. including thin-film commercial. and organic PV. “Solarmer breaks organic solar PV cell conversion efficiency record. “Konarka Power Plastic 40 Series.7 billion into cleantech firms in 2008 in the U. Japan.$15.” Chem.shtml. the bulk of this demand has been met by crystalline silicon (x-Si) materials suppliers (including polysilicon. 2010. Morfa.00/Wp. Tokyo. and utility on-grid solar energy markets. The firms offering TF-Si modules to the market have developed a wide range of technical variations on the commercial scale.konarka. Heeger.” 12 which poured $4. Cheyney. T. Lett. C. firms have introduced new flexible thin-film PV modules for a range of applications.” Konarka Inc.konarka. we highlight representative firms for each technology type to demonstrate the efficiencies. 1.53. As a result. “Heliatek and IAPP achieve record efficiency levels for organic solar cells. 59. revised 25 Aug 2010. published 10 Sep 2010 13 September 2010 / Vol. “G24i ships world’s first commercial application of DSSC. Heliatek press release. large public firms experienced more than 50% reduction in market capitalization. In addition.g24i-ships-worlds-first-commercial-application-of-dssc. S3 / OPTICS EXPRESS A479 .com/index. and as a result.pvtech. www. Soc. R. Thin-film silicon (TF-Si) modules With initial demonstrations stemming back to 1969 [6. market pricing for standard x-Si modules stood well above $3. the photovoltaic (PV) industry has experienced rapid growth in the past 39(7). and K. Product datasheet. including portable PV and building-integrated PV (BIPV) products as well as the more conventional on-grid markets. thin-film PV technology developers have worked to introduce modules to the

while the global announced TF-Si module capacity reached more than 1. revised 25 Aug 2010. 18. the majority of TF-Si developers serving the market offer glass/glass module designs and achieve stabilized efficiencies from 6% for single-junction a-Si up to 9% to 10% for commercial high-performance micromorph modules or demonstration triple-junction a-SiGe mini-modules. accepted 25 Aug 2010. as early developers such as Kaneka. indicating a low utilization rate of most TF-Si production facilities [12]. The number of firms producing TF-Si PV modules has grown rapidly since 2005.000 MW across all TF-Si technology types at more than 80 firms. 1. the transparent conducting oxide (TCO) – typically aluminum-doped zinc oxide (ZnO:Al) – is deposited by atmospheric-pressure CVD (APCVD). published 10 Sep 2010 13 September 2010 / Vol. the total TF-Si installations were less than 300 MW. In each superstrate design. followed by the deposition of a thin ZnO buffer layer and the backcontact of Al.g.00 USD (C) 2010 OSA Received 13 Jul 2010. Uni-Solar (Energy Conversion Devices)) [11]. Ag. Schematics of example commercial thin-film silicon PV module device structures. Sharp.g.named “micromorph”). Fig.g. and United Solar Ovonic (Energy Conversion Devices) have been joined by customers of Applied Materials. in particular. low-pressure CVD (LPCVD). For glass/glass module assembly. or RF sputtering either at the module manufacturer or the glass supplier.$15. Representative schematics of these structures are shown in Fig. the individual cells are defined via laser scribing [8] and the module is encapsulated using either a polyvinyl butyral (PVB) (typical) or ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) laminate and a top cover glass. each of which offers a complete “turn-key” module production system for either single-junction a-Si and/or micromorph modules. Oerlikon micromorph turn-key products [10]). and triple-junction germanium-doped amorphous silicon (a-Si/aSiGe/a-SiGe). 1. and (d) Triple-junction a-Si/a-SiGe/a-SiGe PV cell built on stainless steel foil (e. In 2009. or ZnO:Al. Oerlikon. Applied Materials a-Si turn-key products [9]) (b) Dual-junction a-Si/a-Si module. Turn-key customers. #131601 . S3 / OPTICS EXPRESS A480 . and Ulvac. (c) Tandem-junction a-Si/µc-Si “micromorph” PV module with ZnO:Al backcontact and white paste reflector (e. No. The active TF-Si layers are then deposited via plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD). As shown in Table 1. (a) A single-junction a-Si PV module with Al back contact (e.

accepted 25 Aug 2010.5%c [22] a-Si/nc-Si/nc-Si a Oerlikon manufacturing system Applied Materials manufacturing system c Non-commercial. produces module efficiencies of 9. standard #131601 . commercial CdTe module sales surpassed 1.6%-8.$15. Among flexible module developers.000 MW. SS foil substrate 6.1% [15] Uni-Solar a-Si/a-SiGe/a-SiGe Flexible. SS foil substrate Flexible. 3. and nano-crystalline silicon (nc-Si) active layers. published 10 Sep 2010 13 September 2010 / Vol.9% [14] Schott Solar a-Sia glass/polymer backskin glass/glass 6.2% [20.00 USD (C) 2010 OSA Received 13 Jul 2010.5% on stainless steel foil over a 0. improved light-trapping in the TCO. which introduced a 9. Sunfilm. TF-Si module producers continue to develop more efficient commercial products while targeting lower materials costs. In addition. and limited market for modules. Starting with a TCO-coated glass (typically fluorine-doped tin oxide).9% using a tandem-junction micromorph architecture [14] and will target commercial production of triple-junction TF-Si architectures as early as 2011 [24]. Table 1. reduced active layer thickness. In 2010. Building on the earlier work of Harold McMaster at Solar Cells Inc. including a reduction in the active layer thickness [25]. the cadmium sulfide (CdS) and CdTe layers are sequentially added via a vapor-transport deposition or closed-space sublimation process [28].3% [17] a-Si/µc-Si glass/glass 9. Sharp. Likewise. after which a carbon-based paste containing Cu is added and annealed before the final backside Al electrode is added. filed for insolvency. turn-key equipment developer Oerlikon has set out a roadmap for commercial modules with an efficiency of more than 10% at a module production cost of $0. No. In March 2010. b To address these challenges. and P3 laser scribe as well as encapsulation using an EVA encapsulant and a cover glass. revised 25 Aug 2010.0% . has demonstrated an 11.0%-7. Key developments include the broader introduction of triple-junction TF-Si architectures. 2. (SCI).8. cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film PV modules have seen the greatest success among thin-film PV technologies to date.21] 12.76/Wp [27] of any PV module producer.0% [18] Masdar PV a-Sib glass/glass 6. and in July 2010 Applied Materials announced the discontinuation of its SunFab fully-integrated production line to new customers [13].0% [16] a-Si glass/glass 6. 18. The CdTe active layer is then treated at 400 °C to 450 °C in a CdCl2 atmosphere. P2.7% efficient submodule [22].1%-9.0% efficient µc-Si/a-Si commercial module in December 2009 [18].27 cm2 area [22]. Commercial module assembly includes a P1. led singularly by First Solar.6%-7. First Solar was incorporated in 1999 and today is the largest PV module producer in the world [26] and achieves the lowest reported module production costs of $0. Example commercial thin-film silicon PV modules by developer Company Bosch Solar Thin Film Kaneka Active layer a-Si/µc-Sia Module type glass/glass Efficiency (%) 7.27 cm2 area. Kaneka. record sub-module with 0.0% [19] Sharp a-Si/µc-Si 8. high capital costs.have struggled to reach profitability due to the cost of materials.000 MW module production facility [23]). Commercial PV modules use a standard superstrate structure as shown in Fig. low module efficiency. an Applied Materials TF-Si equipment customer. Cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film modules Commercially. S3 / OPTICS EXPRESS A481 .70/Wp by the end of 2010. Uni-Solar has pushed research-level performance higher by demonstrating a triple-junction a-Si/nc-Si/nc-Si sub-module with an efficiency of 12. In 2009. which expanded its annual TF-Si production capacity by 160 MW in early 2010 (as part of a 1.

18. Primestar Solar.0% 25 MWb [32] First Solar glass/glass 11. Abound Solar targets production costs near $0. No. which is majority-owned by General Electric. as shown in Fig.2% conversion efficiency as reported by First Solar [27]. While CdTe developers currently achieve the lowest production costs on the market. accepted 25 Aug 2010. and (c) CdTe PV module structure incorporating the high-performance design reported by Wu that utilizes a Cd2SnO4 TCO layer [31]. they continued development in both efficiency and costs are pursued to remain competitive in the thin-film PV and overall PV markets.commercial CdTe modules achieve 11. and targets an average module efficiency in June 2010 of 10% [29].g.6%-9. 2(c) – to achieve a record cell efficiency of 16. (a) Glass/glass CdTe PV module using commercial SnO2:F-coated glass and incorporating an EVA laminate [28].33] Primestar Solar glass/glass NA NA NA a Announced nameplate capacity of facilities as of 1 Jan 2010 unless otherwise indicated. Schematics of example commercial CdTe module device structures. published 10 Sep 2010 13 September 2010 / Vol. First Solar targets production costs as low as $0. Fig.65/Wp in 2012 #131601 . Wu and colleagues modified the CdTe superstrate structure – specifically introducing a Cd2SnO4 TCO.416 MW [27.$15. Likewise. of which 18%-25% of the cost improvement will stem from efficiency improvements [35]. Abound Solar [29]). b Q-Cells has stated intent to divest its stake in Calyxo by the end of 2010 [34].2% 1. While First Solar has dominated the CdTe field. is expected to enter production in 2011 [30] to commercialize the technology originally developed by Wu [31] and then licensed by the firm.52/Wp by 2014. as depicted in Fig. Abound Solar encapsulates modules using a silicone edge seal with desiccated polyisobutylene (PIB) inserts. 2(b) [29]. and a CdS:O window layer. Example commercial cadmium telluride PV modules by developer Company Abound Solar Module type glass/glass Efficiency (%) 10% Capacitya 65 MW [29] Calyxo glass/glass 7. additional companies continue to develop commercial CdTe modules as shown in Table 2. S3 / OPTICS EXPRESS A482 . revised 25 Aug 2010.5%. (b) CdTe PV module structure incorporating a silicone edge seal with desiccated polyisobutylene (PIB) inserts (e.00 USD (C) 2010 OSA Received 13 Jul 2010. Table 2. Unlike First Solar. 2. a ZnSnOx buffer layer. Abound Solar is actively ramping a 65 MW commercial production line to produce glass/glass superstrate CdTe modules based on a closed-space sublimation deposition process. does not necessarily represent current production levels.

Miasolé. S3 / OPTICS EXPRESS A483 . Solibro. both the method of CIGS deposition and the final module assembly vary widely among the producers. Solyndra. SoloPower. Copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film modules Copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) developers have garnered significant interest and financial investment since 2003 and 2004.Ga)Se2 layer. Table 3 summarizes the deposition process. including Heliovolt. and a sputtered TCO front contact (typically ZnO/ZnO:Al or ZnO/ITO) – is consistent across most CIGS developers. 18. 3 – including the sputtered back Mo electrode. a Cu(In. published 10 Sep 2010 13 September 2010 / Vol. Since then. including a) a two-step process in which a Cu-In-Ga precursor is deposited initially via RF sputtering and then selenized in the temperature range of 450-550 °C in a selenium environment (typically an elemental selenium vapor). Other firms have pursued a sputtering deposition process. including a CdS buffer layer deposited via chemical bath deposition [28] and (b) A flexible module design. and Ga are thermally evaporated onto the substrate within a selenium-containing atmosphere. The active layers of the CIGS substrate device structures as shown in Fig. #131601 . reported efficiencies. No. Fig.S. (a) CIGS module architecture. or sputtered CdS). Schematics of example commercial CIGS module device structures. and Global Solar all pursue a co-evaporation process in which elemental sources of Cu. some commercial CIGS PV module developers use an electrochemical deposition process to deposit CIGS.[29] and has received a U. when firms such as Nanosolar and Miasolé began raising Series A financing. and Ga are sputtered within a selenium environment to form the CIGS layer directly. reaching well over $100 million per firm [37]. interest in CIGS-based firms has grown tremendously. revised 25 Aug 2010. Nanosolar.00 USD (C) 2010 OSA Received 13 Jul 2010.H. Using this physical vapor deposition process. CIGS developers have achieved commercial glass/glass modules with module efficiencies greater than 10% in 2010. In. with investments in individual firms. For example. as well as a two-step process in which nanometer (nm)-scale or micrometer (µm)-scale particles are deposited via a printing step and then selenized using rapid thermal processing (RTP). and announced capacity for representative developers of CIGS modules. In addition. including front contact gridlines of Ag paste and alternative module laminates. efficiency. and Sulfurcell Solartechnik. In.$15. Solyndra. or b) a one-step reactive sputtering deposition. also ZnS or Zn[O.S] by CBD. 4. accepted 25 Aug 2010. where indicated. However. either with or without a selenium atmosphere to control selenium loss during the high-temperature processing. module form factor. Department of Energy Loan Guarantee to expand its module production capacity by 840 MW [36]. in which elemental Cu. 3. a thin buffer layer (typically CdS deposited by chemical bath deposition [CBD].

18. available from 2011. Global Solar. published 10 Sep 2010 13 September 2010 / Vol. d Average aperture efficiency reported at 10.3%30 MW [53] 10. g Expanding to 135 MW by end of 2010 [49]. i Co-evaporation method described in B. No. the form factor and substrate choice varies widely. revised 25 Aug 2010.5% while total aperture are efficiencies reach 11.8% 40 MW [44] glass/glass (discrete) 8. soda lime glass tubes. Dimmler.5% −11. Some – such as Miasolé. does not necessarily represent current production levels. aluminum foil. P2 and P3 laser scribing steps to isolate individual cells over the module deposition area.3%d 30 MW [43] glass/glass (discrete) 10. f Preliminary data.3%b 30 MW [39] glass/glass (monolithically integrated) cell strings 9.0%11.$15. and Nanosolar – cut individual cells from the flexible foil following #131601 .5% for modules [42].Table 3. Firms such as Solibro or Solar Frontier that use rigid glass sheet substrates use P1.2%11.or polymerbased) use a wider range of module assembly methods and module form factors. Example commercial copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) PV modules by developer Substrate polyimide CIGS Deposition Process co-evaporation Module Form Factor flexible (monolithically integrated) Efficiency (%) 7.00 USD (C) 2010 OSA Received 13 Jul 2010.3%12.3% [39].0% 640 MWe [46] Miasolé stainless steel foil reactive sputtering Nanosolar aluminum foil two-step ink selenization Solar Frontier glass two-step sputtering & selenization process glass/glass (monolithically integrated) 8.8%10.8% 30 MWg [50] Solyndra glass tube co-evaporation glass tube NA 110 MWh [51] Würth Solar glass co-evaporationi glass/glass & tube/glass 10.8% a Announced nameplate capacity of facilities as of 1 Jan 2010 unless otherwise indicated. stainless steel foil. S3 / OPTICS EXPRESS A484 . b According to press release. e Module plant capacity is 640 MW [45].7% 80 MW [47] glass two-step sputtering & selenization process glass/glass (monolithically integrated) 11.0%-8. accepted 25 Aug 2010.1% 20 MWc [40] 10%-11% 75 MW [41] two-step sputtering & selenization process glass/glass (monolithically integrated) 7. and then encapsulate the device using a polymer laminate and a top cover glass. average efficiencies are 10.2%13. “CIS competition with other thin film technologies” [52]. In addition to the range of CIGS deposition processes used in commercial CIGS PV module production. c Expanding capacity to 130 MW by 2012.4% f 0 MWf [48] Solibro glass co-evaporationg glass/glass (monolithically integrated) 9. Rigid soda lime glass sheets.5% polyimide co-evaporation flexible (monolithically integrated) Avancis glass Global Solar stainless steel foil glass two-step sputtering/RTP selenization process co-evaporation Company Ascent Solar Johanna Solar Technology Capacitya – [38] 10. Developers using flexible foils (metal.9%-9. and polyimide foil are all used as the substrate for commercial cells and modules today. h Began construction of second 500 MW facility in September 2009 [51].

and BIPV products have been demonstrated. bulk-heterojunction evaporated multilayer cells. Toyo Seikan Group. b) polymer-based bulkheterojunction PV cells. and (c) an example multilayer. Sony. a range of corporations are actively developing OPV technologies. (b) DSSC device incorporating a liquid electrolyte. published 10 Sep 2010 13 September 2010 / Vol. 18. and c) small-molecule. Nevertheless.00 USD (C) 2010 OSA Received 13 Jul 2010. though café umbrella. While the record DSSC efficiencies are over 10%. Mitsubishi Chemical. new transparent conducting oxides or TCO alternatives. 5. S3 / OPTICS EXPRESS A485 . including Sharp.the deposition of the TCO layer. respectively – the few of OPV commercial modules available are approximately 2% efficient.57]. For example. (a) Polymer/fullerene bulk-heterojunction PV cell. adhesives. then sort the cells according to efficiency and string similar cells using conductive pastes. and actual production levels are far less than the announced capacities. electrode structures to introduce of surface-plasmons) to enhance performance of OPV devices [56. including Ascent Solar. alternative buffer layers to a) replace CdS to eliminate the use of cadmium or b) eliminate the “wet” CBD process. G24 Innovations (G24i) was the first to bring products to market. OPV and DSSC are the newest entrants to the commercial PV product market. And while OPV efficiencies commercially lag behind their inorganic counterparts. 4. Fig. commercial product efficiencies are far lower. In particular. Organic photovoltaics (OPV) and dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) Among thin-film technologies. particularly in flexible module formats. CIGS firms are developing thinner active layers. portable chargers. and Sumitomo Chemical [55].$15. laptop bags) and glass/glass portable chargers for personal electronics [54]. and modified electrodes or interfaces (e. tapes. 4. The majority of CIGS developers are introducing their first commercial products in 2009 and 2010. the technologies under commercial development include: a) dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) utilizing a liquid electrolyte. #131601 . No. alternate cell stringing architectures to improve light absorption and minimize electrical losses. accepted 25 Aug 2010. while Solarmer and Heliatek have each demonstrated OPV cells with better than 7% cell efficiency – in a polymer bulk-heterojunction and small-molecule evaporated bulk-heterojunction cell. Schematics of example OPV cells and module device structures. Among DSSC developers. As shown in Fig.g. Other firms using insolating flexible substrates (e. The low efficiency of OPV modules has limited commercial uptake. including both flexible modules for integration with consumer products (e. solvent selection to optimize printing processes. The bulk of the development to date has focused on the chemistry of the organic donor and acceptor materials. and improved laminates and barrier films to improve device efficiency and lifetime.g. these same firms are also pushing forward technical and cost improvements to CIGS cell and module designs. revised 25 Aug 2010. co-evaporated organic small-molecule device. or wires to form the final cell array of the module. polyimide) use mechanical and/or laser scribing to define and connect cells via monolithic integration.g.

S3 / OPTICS EXPRESS A486 . First Solar has led the path to low cost production and dominated the global on-grid utility-scale.7% (cell)a [58] Konarka Technologies small-molecule bulkheterojunction polymer bulkheterojunction Printing 6. commercial thin-film PV modules across all technologies still trail the performance of crystalline silicon PV modules of 13% to 19% today. #131601 . while OPV manufacturers are still developing their first commercial products. thin-film PV developers serve BIPV applications. and shading structures. military. As shown here. Thus.9% (cell). published 10 Sep 2010 13 September 2010 / Vol.5% (sub-module) 8. the greater growth and diversification of commercial thin-film PV products will require further improvements on today’s commercial technologies.000 MW annual production each). accepted 25 Aug 2010. adhesives.Table 4. In addition to the improvements of the active device layers. from flexible shingles for residential roofs. lightweight PV modules for flat commercial rooftops. 1. pastes.$15.g. while the commercial success to date of First Solar has demonstrated thin-film PV’s potential to rapidly grow in the global solar market. 1. significant cost reductions and performance improvements may arise from developments in the non-active module materials such as glass.000 MW to 2. glass replacements.00 USD (C) 2010 OSA Received 13 Jul 2010. balcony. and opaque and semi-transparent façade. new entrants will need to pursue a wider range of applications to build sales and gain market share. Example OPV and DSSC PV cells and modules by developer Company G24i Technology type DSSC Deposition Method Coating/printing Efficiencya (%) NA Heliatek Evaporation 7. all thin-film PV developers must pursue performance and production cost improvements. and automobile applications. As the overall solar market becomes increasingly crowded with vertically integrated companies boasting large production capacities (e. Not all efficiencies reflect commercial modules. On the other. 18. 6.4% (cell). In addition. thin-film firms must address concerns over installation costs to stay competitive. No. ground-mounted. In addition. and transparent conducting oxides. camping.60] Samsung DSSC Coating/printing 10.75% (Power Plastic 40 Series) [59. Today’s thin-film PV developers target on-grid. utility-scale and commercial/residential rooftop installations as well as off-grid portable power applications for consumer goods. 3.5% (8 cell string) [61] Sony a Coating/printing [23] Stated efficiencies reflect the product and/or test cell as stated. ground-mounted installation market. revised 25 Aug 2010. most CIGS developers have installed few certified commercial products to date. On one hand. To compete continually with crystalline silicon PV incumbents. laminates. while Uni-Solar has become the largest provider of flexible PV modules [26]. Summary The wide range of firms pursuing commercial production of thin-film PV modules has experienced varied success in the PV market.4% (cell) [23] Solarmer Polymer bulkheterojunction DSSC Printing 7.