Indium-based PV materials show promise, especially copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS)

Sept. 2, 2011
Glen Allen, VA--A market report on indium-based materials for the photovoltaics (PV) industry has been released by industry-analyst firm NanoMarkets.

Glen Allen, VA--A market report on indium-based materials for the photovoltaics (PV) industry has been released by industry-analyst firm NanoMarkets; the report covers indium tin oxide (ITO), copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), and indium phosphide (InP), with CIGS showing an especially bright future.

CIGS is one of the fastest growing types of PV and has shown efficiencies as high as 20% in the laboratory. It is a thin-film solar cell and thus can be simpler to make than crystalline silicon solar cells. CIGS is the main driver for indium use in the PV industry, according to NanoMarkets; this type of PV will rapidly penetrate the markets for conventional PV panels, building-integrated PV, and portable PV.

ITO is a widely used transparent conductor. Despite the many substitutes for ITO, significant usage of ITO will continue by PV firms; ITO finds widespread use in amorphous silicon, dye-sensitized solar cells, and organic PV.

Although alternative deposition methods for ITO and CIGS are often touted, important users in the PV industry prefer sputtering. NanoMarkets believes that for CIGS, there will be a growing opportunity to sell composite targets containing indium, copper, and gallium. Also alloy sputtering targets are attractive because of their higher throughput and reduced system cost.

ITO inks are still sold, but seem to be losing out to transparent conducting nanomaterial inks. CIGS inks have potential, but NanoMarkets believes that it is by no means assured that printed CIGS will become a major part of part of the PV industry going forward. None of the CIGS inks are currently available in high volume and the history of printed CIGS has been disappointing. If printed CIGS does take off, however, NanoMarkets sees an opportunity for nanopowder firms to sell related materials to the relevant ink makers.

NanoMarkets expects that the PV industry will start to use more InP as it seeks out next-generation PV technologies. But for now, InP PV is much too costly and is not used much outside of labs and for selected applications in the aerospace industry. However, NanoMarkets notes that InP consumes very large quantities of indium per unit of cell area.

The report provides eight-year projections (both volume and value) of all of these areas, including forecasts of the amount of indium consumed by application and type of material. Additional details about this report, Markets for Indium-based Materials in Photovoltaics, are at

About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

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