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Materials for use in thin-film and organic photovoltaics (PV) will reach $3.8 billion by 2015, according to “Materials Markets for Thin-Film and Organic Photovoltaics,” a new study by NanoMarkets. According to the report, the thin-film and organic photovoltaic market is becoming a source of opportunity for both traditional electronic chemicals suppliers and innovative materials firms. The report also states that innovations at the material level will have a profound impact on the future of PV as a whole.
Thin-film PV is no longer a niche consumer of electronics materials. By 2015, amorphous silicon PV will use more than $900 million in silane gas and other silicon-based materials. A few years ago, producers of crystalline silicon found that conventional PVs were a major new business opportunity. Thin-film PV is bringing the same kind of opportunity to the leading suppliers of electronic chemicals
Getting the copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) mix right will be key in the market. CIGS promises all the advantages of thin-film PV with conversion efficiencies almost as high as conventional PV. Whether or not CIGS can keep this promise will depend on innovative materials firms. The CIGS industry is looking for better formulations of selenium that avoid the volatility problems experienced in high-temperature manufacturing processes. NanoMarkets believes that such problems will be overcome and that by 2015, the CIGS PV sector will consume a total of $1.1 billion in materials.
New materials are the key to PV. In the near future, thin-film materials will provide entirely new directions for PV. Silicon inks will soon be available that will combine the manufacturability advantage of organic PV with much higher conversion efficiencies. Slivers of crystalline silicon have been developed that combine the high efficiency of crystalline silicon with the flexibility and ease of fabrication of thin film, and this technology is already being used in a pilot plant.
Further off lies the commercialization of inorganic nanocrystals designed to overcome the one electron per solar photon limitation in solar energy conversion. Cadmium selenide, cadmium sulfide and cadmium telluride nanocrystals have all been employed in this way in the lab and hint at a thin-film PV of the future with energy conversion ratios well into the double digits.
Visit www.nanomarkets.net for additional details.