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Thin-film modules

To manufacture thin-film modules, wafer-thin layers of a semiconductor material are deposited on substrates and superstrates (depending on the particular method) such as glass, ceramics or metal. Various semiconductor materials can be used. The main ones are:
  • Amorphous silicon (a-Si)
  • Tandem of amorphous and microcrystalline silicon (a-Si/µc-Si)
  • Copper indium diselenide (CIS)
  • Cadmium telluride (CdTe)
Compared with crystalline modules, thin-film modules are less efficient (6 to 11%) and thus require greater surface area in order to achieve the same output.
The form, size and number of cells of a module are already defined during the production process by dividing (structuring) the various layers. Therefore, there is great flexibility with regard to the form and size of the module. Thin-film cells are available opaque or semitransparent. The possible colours range from reddish-brown and bluish-purple to black. The transparent and thus almost invisible contacts create a homogeneous appearance.

Figure 1: Semitransparent and opaque aSi thin-film module

Source: Schott Solar 2009

Figure 2: Façade with thin-film modules: Milbertshofen Culture Centre

Source: arnold glas 2009

Last page update: 25.01.2011