Solar cells, also known as photovoltaic (PV) cells, convert light energy directly into electrical energy. The conversion efficiency of commercial solar cells ranges from 10% to a maximum of about 18%, with peak electrical power of 100W to 180W per square meter (approximately 10 square feet).
Most commercially available solar cells are manufactured from crystalline silicon wafers, which represent the mature first generation of solar technology. Wafer manufacturing is an expensive process, and semiconductor grade silicon is in short supply.
An alternative semiconductor material for PV cells is copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS). It is widely recognized that CIGS is the material of choice for the second generation of thin-film based solar cells. CIGS solar cells have been available in the market for several years; however, the manufacture of these cells is typically through an expensive, high temperature and time consuming vacuum deposition process. Ultrafine’s technology will enable the application of the CIGS material using off-the-shelf manufacturing equipment, thereby allowing low cost, high through-put and low temperature manufacturing of solar cells on rigid or lightweight flexible substrate.
For the first time, solar energy will become cost competitive with conventional electrical energy from fossil fuels.