Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a new way of creating CIGS solar cells. This new method promises to substantially bring down the cost of producing CIGS solar cells. While CIGS cells haven’t yet achieved the efficiency of silicon based solar cells, ultimately they may be cheaper to produce and can be used in thin-film (i.e. flexible) applications. But current manufacturing techniques are expensive and have been difficult to scale.
In the new study, Professor Yang Yang, of UCLA’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, shows how they were able to dissolve copper sulfide and indium selenide in a solution of hydrazine. Once they did that they were able to easily apply the solution to a surface and bake it on. This process is much cheaper and easy to perform than the current method of making CIGS cells – a costly and time consuming process called co-evaporation, which uses a vacuum evaporation technique. The UCLA team has quickly been able to ramp up efficiency – they started out at just 1 percent efficiency, and had moved up to 7.5 percent as they wrote the study. Since the submission of the study, they’ve increased their solar cell efficiency even further – currently its at 9.13 percent.
Yang’s team predicts this new process can be commercialized in three to four years.