PROJECT PROFILE: Case Western Reserve University (PVRD-SIPS)

You are here

--This project is inactive--

Project Name: Interfacial Work Function Modifiers in PV: A Potentially Disruptive Science for Extreme Lifetime Performance
Funding Opportunity: PVRD-SIPS
SETO Subprogram: Photovoltaics
Location: Cleveland, OH
Award Amount: $165,775
Awardee Cost Share: $21,225
Project Investigator: Timothy Peshek

This project investigates the impact of surface modification of the transparent electrode in thin film copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) solar cells on improving the reliability. The modification with a molecular surface modifier will limit chemical exposure of the cell to water and acetic acid from the breakdown of ethylene-vinyl-acetate (EVA) encapsulants. The modification is expected to double the lifetime of the cell.

Approach

Thin-film solar panels can be manufactured at lower cost than widely-used silicon solar panels, but they often have shorter operating lifetimes. Preliminary tests have shown that adding an aluminum coating to the top layer of some thin-film photovoltaics can delay degradation of the oxide and delamination of the film. The research team will develop new coatings that have the potential to increase the competitiveness and durability of thin-film cells.

Innovation

The project will develop a coating material made from a family of compounds called silanes, which are inexpensive and widely used in industry, particularly for protecting fiber optics. The compounds can be customized to enhance desired surface properties without affecting the optical or electrical properties of the film, maintaining efficiencies of the cells while increasing their lifetimes.