Sustainable energy sources such as sun or wind energy have the drawback that they are also highly visible elements that are often considered eyesores. Fortunately, new developments in solar, or photovoltaic cell technology, are making solar cell elements more efficient and affordable as well as extremely thin and easy to integrate into architectural applications.
A thin-film solar cell is a second generation solar cell that is made by depositing one or more thin layers, or thin films (TF) of photovoltaic material on a substrate, such as glass, plastic or metal. Film thickness varies from a few nanometers (nm) to tens of micrometers (µm), much thinner than thin-film’s rival technology. A conventional, first-generation crystalline silicon solar cell (c-Si) for example uses wafers of up to 200 µm.
The nature of these ultra thin film cells allows them to also be flexible, lower in weight and have less drag of friction. They can be used in building integrated photovoltaics and as a semi-transparent, photovoltaic glazing material that can be laminated onto windows.