Copper-based photovoltaic nanocrystals for thin-film solar cells


Increased environmental awareness promoted many countries to adopt renewable energy as the new power source. Solar energy tapped through photovoltaic (PV) technology has become the widely accepted source of power generation, as it operation generates no pollution, and no greenhouse gas emissions. Improving efficiency while reducing cost is of paramount importance when it comes to solar cell research.

Thin-film solar cells, at the cutting edge of solar cell technology, represent an exciting realm of photovoltaics which promises to do just this. Typically, thin-film solar cells are comprised of a combination of copper, indium, gallium, and selenide (CIGS). Although these materials have proven to be vital components of high-efficiency thin-film cells, they have significant disadvantages, such as high monetary and environmental costs. Therefore, there is a need for the development of new formulations which reduce these costs, paving the way for cheaper and greener thin-film products. Globally, the solar power market is expected to grow rapidly and generate revenue of $179.13 billion in 2020, with thin-film technologies comprising about 10% of the total installed capacity.

Description of the Invention

This project is focused on the development of a thin solar film. Researchers from Western University have developed one-pot methods of manufacturing thin-film nanocrystals comprising of several novel copper-based formulations. The nanocrystals, once electrodeposited onto a conductive substrate, offer high absorption, and high photo-conversion values at relatively low production cost. The process operates at normal conditions (i.e ambient pressure and temperature, and no protective atmosphere) to obtain nanocrystals that are preferred for practical application, such as in a photovoltaic device. Industry applications are very straightforward for functional solar devices. The thin-film cells developed at are especially useful in small scale off-grid applications or integrated in the construction of buildings. If scaled up, thin-film cells can be arranged in a large solar farm configuration for large-scale energy production. This project aims to deliver high efficiency solar energy conversion at very low production cost.


•       Scale-able

•       Low cost

•       No vacuum chamber needed

•       Non-silicon based

•       Low temperature

•       One-pot approach using a mild chemical reaction

Potential Applications

•       Small scale off-grid plants

•       Large solar farms

•       Building-integrated panels

Patent Status

US Patent issued 9,346,686



Patent Information:

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