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April 23rd, 2007
Silicon wafer-based cells, however, may soon give way to a new generation of photovoltaics. According to The Information Network, a New Tripoli, Pa.,-based market research company for the semiconductor industry, manufacturing methods using cadmium telluride, CdTe, and copper indium gallium selenide, CIGS, will see a tremendous boost in research dollars for future equipment manufacture. A 275% increase in investment by 2010 is expected, which is a testament to their anticipated impact.
CIGS and CdTe rely on the deposition of nanoparticles of the precursor materials on the substrate, followed by in-place sintering. The U.S. Dept. of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colo., says the best CIGS cell now matches the efficiency of the best polycrystalline-silicon cell, about 19.5% efficiency. Potential applications include newspaper-like roll-to-roll printing and CIGS-based inks.
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