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CIGS drives indium use in solar PV

The growth of copper indium gallium selenide solar photovoltaics (PV) is driving increased use of indium in the solar PV industry according to analyst NanoMarkets.

By Kari Williamson

Despite the many alternatives to indium tin oxide (ITO), significant usage of ITO in solar PV will continue as it finds widespread use in amorphous silicon (a-Si), dye-sensitised solar (DSC) and organic PV (OPV).

Although alternative deposition methods for ITO and CIGS are often touted, important users in the soalr PV industry seem to prefer sputtering.

NanoMarkets believes that for CIGS there will be a growing opportunity to sell composite targets containing indium, copper, and gallium. Also alloy sputtering targets are attractive because of their higher throughput and reduced system cost.

ITO inks are still sold, but seem to be losing out to transparent conducting nanomaterial inks.

CIGS inks have potential, but the analyst believes that it is by no means assured that printed CIGS will become a major part of part of the solar PV industry going forward.

None of the CIGS inks are currently available in high volume and the history of printed CIGS has been “disappointing”, NanoMarkets says. If printed CIGS does take off, however, the analyst sees an opportunity for nanopowder firms to sell related materials to the relevant ink makers.

More InP in solar PV

NanoMarkets expects that the solar PV industry will start to use more indium phosphide (InP) as the industry seeks out next-generation solar PV technologies. But for now, InP solar PV is too expensive and is not used much outside the lab andfor selected applications in the aerospace industry.

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