Being flexible and with the ability to be manufactured using roll-to-roll manufacturing process, flexible thin film solar cells have a lot of advantages over flat panel solar cells conventionally used all over the world. However, thin film solar cells were, till date, considered inefficient in converting sunlight to electricity and hence were not able to replace crystalline silicon-based solar cells. Now, scientists at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, are claiming to have developed the world’s most efficient thin-film CIGS-based cells on flexible polymer films, which reach an efficiency of 20.4 percent.
Till now the maximum this type of cells achieved on the efficiency scale was 18.7 percent. The increase in efficiency, according to the scientists, could be the breakthrough to making thin film solar cells more practical for widespread use. According to Gizmag, the next step will be to scale-up the technology for large scale use along with the development of a roll-to-roll manufacturing process, for which Empa is collaborating with a start-up, called Flisom.