Avancis achieves new certification record for thin-film module

German CIS module manufacturer Avancis has achieved a new efficiency world record for encapsulated thin-film modules.

The U.S. Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) confirmed the company’s test results on a 30-by-30-square-centimeter cadmium-free CIS solar module, which attained an international peak value of 16.6%.

NREL certified the module’s aperture efficiency of 16.6% in January. The result will be listed in the official record efficiency table in the next edition of the journal Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications (Solar Efficiency Tables, Table II: Confirmed terrestrial module efficiencies).

Pointing to the recent world record efficiency of 20.8% achieved by a CIGS cell produced by the Baden-Württemberg Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW), Avancis said the "result demonstrates the extraordinary potential of the CIS based thin-film technologies."

Jörg Palm, Avancis’ head of Process Development, added, "The increased efficiency shows the enormous potential of our CIS production process. A transfer of the pilot process to the production would lead to an impressive module performance of nearly 160 Wp by the approximately one square-meter sized PowerMax modules. The very good homogeneity of the CIS absorber properties based on production dimensions of 158-by-66 square-centimeters were demonstrated by the minor deviation of 0.15 % absolute between different 30-by-30 square-centimeter modules from the same full-size absorber."

The 30-by-30 square-centimeter sized champion module stems from a mass-produced CIS absorber from Avancis’ factory in Torgau, Germany, and was further processed in the company’s research and development center in Munich.

The improvement in efficiency is based on the optimization of the buffer layer with respect to InxSy bandgap, band matching and in particular transmission in a short wavelength range. In addition, the transmittance and the sheet resistance of the sputtered ZnO:Al front contact was optimized and the dead area between the series-connected cells was reduced by the use of picosecond laser processes.