Roll to Roll Processing
The grand challenge for the wide spread use of thin film photovoltaic materials is obtaining a high conversion efficiency over large areas at a reasonable cost. Simultaneous optimization of these three parameters (efficiency, area, & cost) will not only demand a fundamental understanding of the material science involved in photovoltaics, but will also require careful characterization and process control to achieve large-scale performance on a flexible substrate. For instance, the lab-scale efficiency of CIGS solar cells is around 20%, but the best commercially available CIGS cells operate at only 5-11% efficiency.
The purpose of this project is to apply the vast resources and expertise of Oak Ridge National Laboratory to the challenges facing today’s manufacturers of thin film solar cells. ORNL has the capabilities in place and the expertise required to understand how basic material properties including defects, impurities, and grain boundaries affect the solar cell performance. ORNL also has unique processing capabilities to optimize the manufacturing process for fabrication of high efficiency and low cost solar cells.
ORNL recently established the Center for Advanced Thin-film Systems (CATS) which contains a suite of optical and electrical characterization equipment specifically focused on solar cell research. This facility has been lauded by the solar industry due to its unique and diverse solar characterization capabilities situated in one location. Under the current project, ORNL will make these facilities available to industrial partners who are interested in pursuing collaborative research toward the improvement of their product or manufacturing process. The project will also enable ORNL staff members to pursue a sustained level of research that addresses issues common to several members of the solar industry.