CIGS, now with added flexibility
2010 R&D 100 Winner
Most solar cells are made from silicon; other higher-performing cells that rely on different materials have been more difficult to manufacture and have more limited applications. The Flexible Monolithically Integrated Copper-Indium-Gallium-diSelenide (CIGS) Photovoltaic Modules on Polyimide Substrates demonstrate that solar cell material can be made with roll-to-roll processing on a flexible, lightweight polymric substract with a monolithic integration.
Developed by Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc., Thornton, Colo., and ITN Energy Systems, Inc., Littleton, Colo., these thin-film CIGS modules use monolithic integration by laser patterning to replace cell-to-cell interconnects with a module on a continuous polyimide substrate. Unlike other technologies with discrete cells that must be installed separately, this module requires only two leads; all cell-to-cell interconnects are conducted during processing.
The monolithic integration produces a useful voltage in a smaller area than other technologies. Each module can stand alone, or be incorporated as a submodule into a larger assembly. The basic building block measures approximately 15 by 30 cm, generates 20 V at maximum power, and produces between 4.2 W and 5.0 W. Another building block is four times that size and generates over 40 V at 16.8 W and 20 W. Each module can stand alone, or be incorporated as a sub-module into a larger assembly. Modules can range from credit-card size up to five meters.
Potential applications include integration into building materials such as roofing and awnings, or for coverings for backpacks to charge computers and consumer electronics.
Flexible CIGS photovoltaic modules
Flexible Monolithically Integrated Copper-Indium-Gallium-diSelenide (CIGS) Photovoltaic Modules on Polyimide Substrates Development Team:
Joseph H. Armstrong, Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc.
Venu Basava, Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc.
Garth Jensen, Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc.
Scott Kato, ITN Energy Systems Inc
Mohan S. Misra, Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc.
Ashutosh Misra, Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc.
Prem Nath, Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc.
Lawrence Woods, Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc.