Project Name: Improved Solar Cell Performance and Reliability Through Advanced Defect Characterization and Growth Studies
Funding Opportunity: Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2018 Funding Program (SETO FY2018)
SETO Research Area: Photovoltaics
Location: Columbus, OH
SETO Award Amount: $1,500,000
Awardee Cost Share: $375,000
Principal Investigator: Aaron Arehart

-- Award and cost share amounts are subject to change pending negotiations --

Copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) solar cells have the potential to reach efficiencies comparable to silicon cells, but material defects and instabilities limit cell performance and lead to system degradation. This project aims to study CIGS cell materials and identify and evaluate the impact that defects have on performance and reliability. The team will characterize the defect mechanisms to determine the best materials and optimal processing conditions needed to create stable and reliable, high-performing CIGS cells.


The project team will design a CIGS cell with higher operating efficiencies and lower degradation than commercial CIGS cells. They will investigate the cause of defects using tools such as electron microscopy, photoluminescence, and energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy. They will examine cell behavior in various   environments to determine how to reduce the impact of these defects and use mitigation strategies that don’t limit cell performance. The team will also study CIGS cells that contain varying amounts of sulfur and selenium to see how they affect material chemistry, defects, and stability. The researchers will combine these results with modeling to support further studies.  


Identifying the physical sources of two main defects in CIGS cells and minimizing their impact through growth under various treatment and conditions will reduce degradation and improve performance. This project will contribute to the body of knowledge on the chemical nature of CIGS cells and further inform the architecture and optimized processing of highly stable, high-performing materials.