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Glass-like diffusion barrier for flexible CIGS solar cells for spraying

16.10.2013 - (idw) INM - Leibniz-Institut für Neue Materialien gGmbH

Researchers at the INM have developed a barrier layer for flexible CIGS solar cells which separates the metal substrate from the absorber layer and so increases the efficiency of the metal-based solar cells. A wet chemistry spray process can then be used to apply it to flexible and rigid substrates with a variety of shapes. The INM will be exhibiting these and other developments from 23 to 24 October at Eurofinish 2013 in Ghent (Belgium).

The glass-like layer increases the efficiency of the solar cells in a different way. It acts as an iron diffusion barrier, preventing corrosion and oxidation of the substrate, explains Peter William de Oliveira, Head of the Optical Materials Program Division. At the same time, the barrier works as an insulating layer and reduces unwanted electrical currents from the absorber to the substrate, he adds. In addition, the coating is a source for the doping element sodium which increases the efficiency of metal-based CIGS solar cells to 13%. The new barrier layer also makes it possible to monolithically connect several cells on one and the same substrate to modules.

The glass-like diffusion barrier is applied to the metal substrate using the sol-gel process. It is transparent, flexible and only a few micrometers thick. A3 size films can be produced by dip coating and slit coating. For the further upscaling process, researchers at the INM then developed a method with which they can apply the coating via a spray process to large substrates with a variety of shapes. In addition, films up to 50 meters long and just under half a meter wide can also be coated using classic roll-to-roll processes.

Dr Peter William de Oliveira
INM Leibniz Institute for New Materials
Head Program Division Optical Materials
Phone: +49681-9300-148

INM conducts research and development to create new materials for today, tomorrow and beyond. Chemists, physicists, biologists, materials scientists and engineers team up to focus on these essential questions: Which material properties are new, how can they be investigated and how can they be tailored for industrial applications in the future? Four research thrusts determine the current developments at INM: New materials for energy application, new concepts for implant surfaces, new surfaces for tribological applications and nanosafety/nanobio interaction. Research at INM is performed in three fields: Chemical Nanotechnology, Interface Materials, and Materials in Biology.

INM Leibniz Institute for New Materials, situated in Saarbruecken, is an internationally leading centre for materials research. It is an institute of the Leibniz Association and has about 190 employees.
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