Layers for photovoltaics

At Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films (IST), we actively collaborate in order to advance energy research in a wide range of areas. Our main focus is on the development of innovative and sustainable battery technologies based on solid electrolytes (All-Solid-State Batteries - ASSB) and recyclable raw materials.
© Fraunhofer IST
Silicon layers produced by hot wire CVD for a heterostructure solar cell.

Within the framework of the energy transition, photovoltaics is an important building block on the path towards climate neutrality. In order to exploit the potential of this technology, the current challenges and issues in photovoltaic research must be addressed: It is necessary to reduce the cost of materials and electricity generation, i.e. for the conversion of solar energy into electricity, in order to then be able to benefit from area-related scaling effects.


Production of low-cost and highly efficient solar cells

At the Fraunhofer IST, we have set ourselves the goal of driving forward the continuous further development of cell technology in order to achieve higher efficiency rates. Our focus thereby lies on the development of layers for photovoltaics. The starting point for our work is the latest generation of highly efficient solar cells. In these, the interfaces created by means of vacuum technology are virtually defect-free and are optimally adapted to the photovoltaic absorber in terms of optoelectronic properties. As regards a further increase in efficiency, approaches involving the development of tandem solar cells in conjunction with perovskite absorbers are looking promising. This new cell technology is based on the established silicon and CIGS technologies.  

Highly efficient tandem solar cells

Tandem solar cells have a very complex structure. They consist of a large number of ultra-thin contact layers which are deposited under, between and on the two absorbers. At the Fraunhofer IST, we have amassed extensive expertise in the field of vacuum technologies, which we apply here in order to realize highly efficient processes and, simultaneously, outstanding layer properties for e.g. transparent conductive layers (TCO), tunnel and front contacts, or hole and electron contact layers. The upscaling of the technology forms a further focal point of our work. Our customers and partners benefit not only from our expertise in the development of layers for photovoltaics or in simulation for process optimization, but also from our measurement technology for quality assurance and control. Furthermore, we perform life cycle assessments and consider the entire product life cycle in terms of sustainability within the framework of our life cycle engineering (LCE).

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Selected reference projects


Reference project

Materials for sustainable tandem solar cells with maximum conversion efficiency


Reference project

High-efficiency silicon solar cells for car roofs

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