CdTe-Based Thin Film Photovoltaics: Recent Advances, Current Challenges and Future Prospects

Michael Scarpulla, Brian McCandless, Adam Phillips, Yanfa Yan, Michael Heben, Colin Wolden, Gang Xiong, Wyatt Metzger, Dan Mao, Dmitry Krasikov, Igor Sankin, Sachit Grover, Amit Munshi, Walajabad Sampath, James Sites, Alexandra Bothwell, David Albin, Matthew Reese, Alessandro Romeo, Marco NardoneRobert Klie, J. Walls, Thomas Fiducia, Ali Abbas, Sarah Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus Citations


Cadmium telluride (CdTe)-based cells have emerged as the leading commercialized thin film photovoltaic technology and has intrinsically better temperature coefficients, energy yield, and degradation rates than Si technologies. More than 30 GW peak (GWp) of CdTe-based modules are installed worldwide, multiple companies are in production, modules are shipping at up to 18.6% efficiency, and lab cell efficiency is above 22%. We review developments in the science and technology that have occurred over approximately the past decade. These achievements were enabled by manufacturing innovations and scaling module production, as well as maximizing photocurrent through window layer optimization and alloyed CdSexTe1-x (CST) absorbers. Improved chlorine passivation processes, film microstructure, and serendipitous Se defect passivation significantly increased minority carrier lifetime. Efficiencies >22% have been realized for both Cu and As doped CST-based cells. The path to further efficiency gains hinges primarily on increasing open circuit voltage (Voc) and fill factor (FF) through innovations in materials, fabrication methods, and device stacks. Replacing the longstanding Cu doping with As doping is resulting in better module stability and is being translated to large-scale production. To realize 25% efficiency and >1 V Voc, research and development is needed to increase the minority carrier lifetime beyond 100 ns, reduce grain boundary and interface recombination, and tailor band diagrams at the front and back interfaces. Many of these goals have been realized separately however combining them together using scalable manufacturing approaches has been elusive to date. We review these achievements and outstanding opportunities for this remarkable photovoltaic technology.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number112289
Number of pages28
JournalSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-85320


  • cadmium telluride
  • CdTe photovoltaics


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