Impact of Thin Film Technology on The Crystalline Silicon Industry

Judging from the current development of photovoltaic technology, thin films, especially CIGS thin films, will gradually become the mainstream of solar power generation.

Thin-Film Solar Cell

Thin-film photovoltaic cells, also known as solar cells, are devices that use the photovoltaic effect to convert light energy into electrical energy. They are considered novel photovoltaic devices that can alleviate the energy crisis.

Thin-film solar cells can be fabricated on substrates using materials such as ceramics, graphite, and metal sheets. These raw materials, while relatively cheap, work very well. They can make thin films with a thickness of only a few micrometers, and the current conversion efficiency can reach 13%.

In addition to planar, thin-film solar cells can also be made into non-planar structures because of their flexibility. Therefore, they have a wide range of applications and can be combined with or become part of buildings.


The aforementioned CIGS is mainly composed of Cu (copper), In (indium), Ga (gallium), and Se (selenium), and the complete chemical formula is CuInxGa(1-x)Se2. This material has many advantages, including strong light absorption ability, good power generation stability, high conversion rate, long daytime power generation time, low production cost, short energy recovery cycle, etc.

Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Cells
Ogunshile, Emmanuel. (2017). An Investigation into the Use of Hybrid Solar Power and Cloud Service Solutions for 24/7 Computing. 743-754. 10.5220/0006380007430754.

CIGS VS. Silicon

Why thin film technology will beat traditional crystalline silicon products? Comparing the two, you will find the following results.

  • The absolute power generation of the thin film is higher, and the average power generation is about 8-10% higher than that of crystalline silicon (depending on the location and climate of the power station).
  • The decay rate of CIGS thin film power generation is controllable, which means that the occurrence of power generation decay can be controlled by adopting effective technical means. The practice has proved that during the operation of the CIGS thin-film station, the power generation does not decrease, but increases slightly.

For the comparison between CIGS thin film and Silicon materials, you can refer to this article Silicon Thin-Film VS. CIGS Thin-Film for Solar Panels.


Although the crystalline silicon industry has matured and the conversion efficiency of monocrystalline silicon has also been improved, technical shortcomings restrict the sustainable development of the crystalline silicon industry. What’s worse is that its industrial chain is long, the cost is difficult to control, and crystalline silicon products are not competitive. From this point of view, the development of thin film technology, especially CIGS thin film, will get better and better.

Stanford Advanced Materials (SAM) is a global sputtering target manufacturer which supplies high-quality and consistent products to meet our customers’ R&D and production needs. We provide high-purity CIGS materials and we insure you will be satisfied with our products. Please visit our website for more information.