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  • New Process Paves Way for Affordable PV
Aug 2011
DRESDEN, Germany, Aug. 30, 2011 — Thin-film solar cells consist of several layers, with each having a different function. The light-absorbing layer is in the center, encapsulation layers on the outer sides protect the solar cell against environmental influences, and contact layers divert the resulting current. Now, Fraunhofer FEP is looking to apply higher-quality versions of these layers at higher production rates to ultimately reduce solar cell production cost.

“We expect that vacuum-based coating technologies, which we use at the Fraunhofer FEP, will allow the production cost of photovoltaic modules to be reduced by at least 90 percent,” said Dr. Torsten Kopte, FEP contact.

An example of the thin-film solar cell that the Fraunhofer Institute says will pave the way to a more affordable and efficient production process. (Image: Fraunhofer FEP)

Fraunhofer FEP scientists have already achieved promising results from depositing back contacts. They have successfully deposited molybdenum layers for copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) thin-film cells with 10 times higher productivity than competing technologies.

“The high deposition rate of 60 nanometers per second is just an intermediate result, and I am sure that we can increase this further,” said Jens-Peter Heinss, scientist at FEP. “For the time being, it is essential for us that the layer properties and efficiency of the cells remained qualitatively equivalent to those of slower processes.”

Fraunhofer will present the new PV manufacturing process Sept. 5-9 at PVSEC 2011 (Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition) in Hamburg.

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thin film
A thin layer of a substance deposited on an insulating base in a vacuum by a microelectronic process. Thin films are most commonly used for antireflection, achromatic beamsplitters, color filters, narrow passband filters, semitransparent mirrors, heat control filters, high reflectivity mirrors, polarizers and reflection filters.
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