CIGS Photovoltaics: Reviewing an Evolving Paradigm

Billy Stanbery, Daniel Abou-Ras, Akira Yamada, Lorelle Mansfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus Citations


Copper indium selenide chalcopyrite-structure alloys with gallium (CIGS) are unique among the highest performing photovoltaic (PV) semiconductor technologies. They are structurally disordered, nonstoichiometric materials that have been engineered to achieve remarkably low bulk nonradiative recombination levels. Nevertheless, their performance can be further improved. This review adopts a fundamental thermodynamic perspective to comparatively assess the root causes of present limitations on CIGS PV performance. The topics of selectivity and passivation of contacts to CIGS and its multinary alloys are covered, highlighting pathways to maximizing the electrochemical potential between those contacts under illumination. An overview of absorber growth methods and resulting properties is also provided. We recommend that CIGS researchers consider strategies that have been successfully implemented in the more mature wafer-based GaAs and Si PV device technologies, based on the paradigm of an idealized PV device design using an isotropic absorber with minimal nonradiative recombination, maximal light trapping, and both electron-selective and hole-selective passivated contacts. We foresee that CIGS technology will reach the 25% efficiency level within the next few years through enhanced collection and reduced recombination. To significantly impact power-generation applications, cost-effective, manufacturable solutions are also essential.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number173001
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number17
StatePublished - 28 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 IOP Publishing Ltd.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-78937


  • CIGS
  • Cu(In,Ga)Se
  • passivation
  • photovoltaics
  • recombination
  • selective contacts
  • solar cells


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