Advanced Thin Film Core Technology: CIGS Final Technical Report (FTR)

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Cu(In,Ga)Se2 (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaics are a high-efficiency and reliable technology. This project completed research in two important areas and was designed to work collaboratively with industrial partners. Task 1: Alkali Science focused on alkali post-deposition treatments (PDT). PDTs have been instrumental in the dramatic voltage improvements that have moved CIGS device efficiencies from 20% to 23.35% [1]. Based on a survey of CIGS companies at the beginning of the project, the single biggest breakthrough for the CIGS community would be a mechanistic understanding of the role of alkalis in the material system. Significant accomplishments of Task 1: Alkali Science: 1) KF post-deposition treatments were shown to improve lifetime, open-circuit voltage (VOC), and efficiency of industrial partner samples, even when done as a later step, separate from the original CIGS deposition. 2) KF boosted efficiency when incorporated at the end of the third stage of NREL CIGS growth. 3) XPS characterization of CIGS surfaces with and without PDTs led to a proposed mechanism whereby K drives structural transformation at 350 degrees C that is locked in at room temperature even after K is rinsed away. 4) Published recipes for KF and RbF PDTs. Literature to date did not provide enough detail to quickly reproduce experimental results. 5) Identified most important parameters (RbF cell temperature and lamp setpoint temperature) and set boundaries for successful RbF PDTs. The purpose of Task 2: Cell-level Reliability was to overcome the largest challenges to investor confidence and long product lifetime in CIGS-based photovoltaic products: metastability, shading-induced hot spots, and potential-induced degradation (PID). Key findings were made in each of these areas by studying CIGS reliability at the cell level: 1) Published NREL's cell-level reliability testing procedures along with challenges that were encountered while developing them. These were also distributed to the community through an MRS conference presentation. 2) Decreased metastability by adding a CdS hole-injection layer between the CIGS and Zn(O,S) in the device stack. It also improved device performance. Materials other than CdS can be used for the same purpose. 3) Reduced front-glass PID by replacing soda-lime glass with low-Na borosilicate glass. 4) Found that PID depends on leakage current and light/electrical bias. This will help labs avoid test-specific degradation. 5) Discovered that CIGS can suffer from two different types of PID with different mechanisms. Front is slower and leads to shunting ZnO. Back is faster and degrades the p-n junction. 6) Holding cells at open circuit slows PID compared to short circuit. This affects testing protocols for glass/glass modules.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages31
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5K00-82972


  • alkali
  • CIGS
  • Cu(InGa)Se2
  • PDT
  • post-deposition treatment
  • reliability


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