The Institute of Energy Conversion’s research predominantly features three solar energy technologies: Cadmium Telluride (CdTe)Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS), and Silicon.

CdTe is an attractive contender for terrestrial solar power generation with its high conversion efficiency and low production cost. The IEC’s focus for CdTe is on device fabrication and analysis, high throughput processing methods, incorporation of sub-micron CdTe absorber layers, and the development of flexible solar cells, as it continues to push the envelope toward low-cost CdTe modules with 15% efficiency.

With their wider bandgap, CIGS also have great promise for broad application, providing the highest efficiencies of any thin-film solar cells, as well as the ability to be manufactured on low cost glass or flexible substrates. At IEC, research centers on alloy deposition either by thermal co-evaporation or selenization. A baseline process for complete cell fabrication is maintained, and cells with efficiencies as high as 18% have been produced.

The production of silicon solar cells continues to grow globally at rates of greater than 30% per year, and forms the basis of a multi-billion dollar industry. IEC continues to develop new device structures which combine the high efficiency and large manufacturing capacity of crystalline silicon photovoltaics with the low cost of thin film solar cells. Silicon heterojunction technology, in particular, provides considerable flexibility that has allowed IEC to achieve record efficiencies.