According to a study by NanoMarkets, the market for materials used in thin-film and organic photovoltaics (PV) will hit $3.8 billion by 2015, with opportunities available for both traditional electronic chemicals suppliers and innovative materials firms. The industry-analyst firm asserts that thin-film PV is no longer a niche consumer of electronics materials.
By 2015, amorphous silicon PV will use more than $900 million in silane gas and other silicon-based materials, according the report. Also, CIGS (a combination of copper, indium, gallium, and selenium) promises all the advantages of thin-film PV, but with conversion efficiencies almost as high as conventional PV. However, whether or not CIGS can reach its potential depends on finding better formulations of selenium that avoid the volatility problems experienced in high-temperature manufacturing processes. NanoMarkets believes this is possible within the next few years and that the CIGS PV sector will reach $1.1 billion in materials.
The report adds that in the near future thin-film materials will provide entirely new directions for PV. For instance, silicon inks will soon be available that will combine the manufacturing advantages of organic PV, but with much higher conversion efficiencies. Further off lies the commercialization of inorganic nanocrystals designed to overcome the one-electron-per-solar-photon limitation in solar cell conversion.