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CIGS to Fulfill Its Potential as a Photovoltaic Wonder Material

There will be setbacks but according to a just-published report from NanoMarkets, an industry analysis firm based here, CIGS - a photovoltaic material technology made of copper-indium-gallium-selenium - will fulfill its potential as the wonder child of the thin-film photovoltaic (TFPV) materials business. These and other findings from the report, "Materials Markets for CIGS Photovoltaics," can be found at

Other Findings:

  • Short-term setbacks, including the current economic meltdown and the technical and managerial problems that companies in this area have experienced over the past two years, will push out initial assumptions for CIGS PV ramp up. However, there are several positive signs pointing toward CIGS’ ability to come through in the long term. First, NREL announced recently that it had achieved an efficiency of 20.0 percent on CIGS-based champion cells. As well, two large companies with experience in the semiconductor industry - IBM and TOK - have invested heavily in CIGS PV. NanoMarkets expects the CIGS PV market to grow from $403.1 million in 2011, to $2.16 billion in 2016.
  • One area of opportunity for materials suppliers is the substrate material used for CIGS PV cells. The most widely used substrate, which represents the largest material component of CIGS PV in volume terms, is glass. However, there is a need for flexible substrates that allow for roll-to-roll, continuous processing, which many believe will substantially reduce the cost of producing these cells. As a result, companies and research institutions are evaluating new substrate materials such as glass-polymer composites and polyimide materials. NanoMarkets expects flexible glass and composite glass materials to take an increasing share of the CIGS PV substrate market.
  • Deposition of CIGS materials is currently dominated by vacuum-based methods such as sputtering and evaporation. However, in order for CIGS PV to become a low-cost PV option, non-vacuum methods will be required to form the absorber layer. NanoMarkets expects that cells produced using non-vacuum methods, including electrodeposition and printing techniques, will outpace the growth of the vacuum deposition methods. NanoMarkets expects revenues for CIGS cells produced using these non-vacuum techniques to grown from about $130.2 million in 2011, to $1.2 billion in 2016.

About the Report:

NanoMarkets’ report, "Materials Markets for CIGS Photovoltaics," analyzes and quantifies the opportunities that are emerging for materials suppliers and device manufacturers as the result of both established and emerging trends in development of CIGS materials. The report focuses on the core CIGS absorber materials, but also covers materials for electrodes, encapsulation, dielectrics, etc, since all of these materials are critical to the performance of CIGS PV. The report begins with a full review of the state of the art in CIGS materials and manufacturing, but its main focus is on business cases rather than technical issues. It includes strategic profiles of leading suppliers of materials into the CIGS space and of the materials-related activities of the emerging CIGS panel makers. An eight-year forecast is also included.

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