A copper indium gallium selenide solar cell (or CIGS cell, sometimes CI(G)S or CIS cell) is a thin-film solar cellused to convert sunlight into electric power. It is manufactured by depositing a thin layer of copper, indium, gallium and selenide on glass or plastic backing, along with electrodes on the front and back to collect current. Because the material has a high absorption coefficient and strongly absorbs sunlight, a much thinner film is required than of other semiconductor materials.
CIGS is one of three mainstream thin-film PV technologies, the other two being cadmium telluride and amorphous silicon. Like these materials, CIGS layers are thin enough to be flexible, allowing them to be deposited on flexible substrates. However, as all of these technologies normally use high-temperature deposition techniques, the best performance normally comes from cells deposited on glass. Even then the performance is marginal compared to modern polysilicon-based panels. Advances in low-temperature deposition of CIGS cells have erased much of this performance difference.
Thin-film market share is stagnated at around 15 percent, leaving the rest of the PV market to conventional solar cells made of crystalline silicon. In 2013, the market share of CIGS alone was about 2 percent and all thin-film technologies combined fell below 10 percent. CIGS cells continue being developed, as they promise to reach silicon-like efficiencies, while maintaining their low costs, as is typical for thin-film technology.
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