After 4 years, the FCT-funded project “MiconCell – Thin-film micro-concentrator solar cells” has successfully finished in June 2022. The innovative idea of the MiconCell project was to combine highly-efficient thin-film technology with the concentrator photovoltaic approach and shrink the size scale to the micrometre range.
CIGSe solar cells, which are thin-film solar cells based on Cu(In, Ga)Se2, present several advantages over the dominating silicon technology. However, the limited supply of the elements indium and gallium and related costs upon considerably increased production volumes present a constraint.
To reduce the use of scarce elements, the Laboratory for Nanostructured Solar Cells at INL, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Porto and the University of Luxembourg, worked on the development of micro-concentrator CIGSe solar cells within the Portuguese-funded project MiconCell.
The project idea was to combine the highly-efficient thin-film technology with the concentrator photovoltaics approach and shrink the size scale to the micrometre range.
The international team could demonstrate CIGSe solar cells with only a 200-micrometre diameter reaching up to 4.8% power conversion efficiency. Furthermore, a process for the low-cost manufacturing of concentrator optics by hot-embossing was developed and lens arrays with millimetre-sized lenses were fabricated.
The achieved results represent a stepping stone toward a materials-efficient photovoltaics technology, which uses 100-times less critical materials. This project contributes to research and development activities ensuring a future sustainable energy supply, in which photovoltaics will play a crucial role.