Solar power provides an important building block for the energy transition. Today, solar cells are produced predominantly from crystalline silicon. In contrast, thin-film technologies – and here in particular the CIGS material system (Cu(In,Ga)Se2 = copper, indium and/or gallium as well as selenium) – offer several advantages that have led ZSW to specialise in the CIGS thin-film material system for manufacturing solar cells and modules.
After Stuttgart University succeeded in 1989 in creating solar cells with a 17% efficiency on small surfaces, ZSW took up this promising technology and brought it to commercial fruition after successfully scaling up the technology. In addition to scaling up the surface area, the transition from the laboratory scale to an industrial environment particularly focussed on the system engineering. The challenge here is to produce the semiconductor and the contact layers at square metre substrate sizes instead of square centimetres under production conditions (high throughput and high yield). At ZSW, the process and system engineering was consistently optimised to this end and then effectively transferred to the industrial environment: following a pilot phase, the Würth Solar company produced CIGS solar modules at a 30 MW factory until 2011, based on the technology developed at ZSW. The current industrial partner Manz AG offers turnkey production lines for the production of CIGS modules.
You can find further information online at Photovoltaics.