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PV-1: Thin-Film Absorber Materials and Processing

Solar Energy Research Center for India and the United States (SERIIUS)


Sustainable Photovoltaics


Earth-abundant photovoltaics and advanced processing


To build on existing key consortium competencies in thin-film photovoltaic (PV) materials, such as Cu(In,Ga)Se2 (CIGS), to develop disruptive, high-performance, solution-based (ink-based) CIGS and CuZnSn(S,Se)2 (CZTS) systems for cost-effective PV technologies for the India and U.S. markets.

Project Milestones:

P1: Develop a 12%, >1-cm2 CIGS solar cell from ink-based precursors/electrodeposited on flex-glass (36 months); scale to >100 cm2 (48 months).

P2Demonstrate a >8% CZTS, 1-cm2 cell by a non-hydrazine-based solution route: ink-based (24 months) and electrodeposition-based (36 months).

P3: Provide materials science basis for realizing 20% CZTS research-scale cells (48 months).

P4: Produce a >15% CZTS cell by one non-hydrazine approach (60 months).

Task 1: Precursor Development

  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
  • Purdue University
  • Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB)
  • Corning
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Colorado School of Mines (CSM)

Develop new, benign (green manufacturing), and low-cost precursor systems that do not involve hydrazine processing/treatments and that produce large-grain, high-performance, device-quality absorbers with solar-cell performances equaling the state of the art in the technology. This work develops the foundational materials science necessary to dramatically improve efficiency and to facilitate transition to roll-to-roll processing, through development of design rules and down-select methodologies. Validation is provided through structure, morphology, and composition characterization of materials and diagnostic devices. Device optimization will be prioritized in the subsequent years following device and process development/validation.

Task 2: Scalable Ink-Based CIGS

  • Purdue University
  • Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB)
  • International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI)
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Develop scalable ink-based technology that produces high-quality photovoltaic materials. The project sets out to develop the necessary inks, precursors, and process chemistries to enable precursor-based atmospheric processing suitable for roll-to-roll processing. Initial work will start on CIGS processing, in which NREL and ARCI have experience, and then focus on CZTS as advances are made in SERIIUS projects (PV-1) and elsewhere. A key focus will be the use of flex-glass substrates, including proprietary Corning substrates provided to SERIIUS. A key component of this work is the entire team examining process chemistries in the Atmospheric Processing Cluster Tool in the Process Development and Integration Laboratory (PDIL) at NREL. This tool allows the exploration of ink-based printing and spray, slot-dye coating, and integration with vacuum processing with onboard diagnostics. The inks developed in this project will be evaluated on this tool for scale-up potential.