What is Thin film PV?

Make appointment

One hundredth of a human hair

The thickness of the active layer in traditional c-Si solar panels is somewhat similar to that of a human hair. By comparison, the active layer in thin-film solar panels is roughly 100 times thinner. What’s more, photovoltaic material that consists of perovskite is 10 times thinner still.

Advantages of thin film

Thin film has important advantages:

  • The active material can be deposited on flexible materials such as foil. Flexible thin-film solar panels are:
  • The energy yield is comparable with that of c-Si and is getting better all the time.
  • Little material is required to produce it, which makes it relatively cheap.
    • Flexible and lightweight
    • Optionally semi-transparent
    • Ideally suited to integrate into existing products

Different types of thin film

There are different types of photovoltaic material:

  • Cadmium telluride (CdTe)
  • Amorphous silicon (a-Si)
  • Organic photovoltaic materials (OPV)

Solliance mainly conducts research into:

  • CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide)
  • Perovskite solar cells (PSC)

Towards cost effective production processes

Thin-film solar panels are still relatively expensive. This is because currently only panels based on CdTe are produced on a large scale. A disadvantage of this type of panel is that it contains cadmium, which is toxic. None of the other thin-film panels are already being produced on a large scale. This is because no large-scale, cheap production processes are available yet for most of the other thin-film panels.

Solliance’s mission

The mission of Solliance is to team up with companies to develop technology that can contribute to the large-scale and low-cost production of thin-film solar panels. Our ultimate goal is to increase employment in Europe.

Barend Vermeulen

+31 (0)6 2013 3795


Excellent Researcher 2017 Mirjam Theelen

At the start of this year, TNO awarded the prize for the Excellent Researcher 2017 to Mirjam Theelen. This prize is awarded every year within TNO for scientific research with impact. Mirjam Theelen works within the Solliance programs and conducts research into the...

read more