Tens of years have passed since the creation of the first technologies designed to convert solar radiation into electricity. During this time, the industry has developed significantly and offered the world many effective developments that helped bring energy to a new level. One of them is solar systems, which consist of thin-film photovoltaic cells.

They were created not so long ago, but in this short period, they have become quite popular. Market predictions by Precedence Research suggest that these technologies will generate $27.27 billion in revenue by 2025. For comparison, in 2022 this number was 12.23 billion dollars. We offer to learn how thin-film solar panels were created, and what modern companies offer.

Source: Solar Magazine


How Did the Production of Solar Panels Develop?

The first steps towards the development of the technology now offered by solar companies were made in the 70s. During this period, photovoltaic elements were created, the basis of which were cells made of gallium arsenide. For this development, a team of engineers from the Ioffe Institute received one of the highest awards – the Nobel Prize. A few years later, the IEC – Energy Conversion Institute was established for in-depth research on thin film solar cells.

Scientists of the organization initially focused all efforts on studying the properties and advantages of elements that were created from cadmium sulfide and copper sulfide. Later research expanded to known to many modern buyers of amphoric silicon elements. All these efforts contributed to the achievement of impressive results. In 1973, scientists demonstrated the first Thin-Film Solar Panels integrated into a residential building. After a successful experiment, interest in the development increased significantly.

In the following decades, developers began to create innovative thin film solar panels for the aerospace industry as well as commercial use. During this period, several companies also began work on the creation of amphoric photovoltaic cells. New developments that began to appear in the period from 1980 to 1986 already had an efficiency of 10%. At the same time, the first amphora thin-film panel suitable for commercial use was produced.

The Period of Active Development of Solar Film Panels

A new stage in the history of technology production began in the period 1990-2000. At this time, scientists already had a certain basis for experiments and began to work on the main problem – relatively low efficiency. The first achievements in this direction were presented by a team of engineers and researchers from the University of South Florida. They managed to create thin film solar with a higher level of efficiency than existing varieties.

The laboratory-confirmed indicator reached 15%. This became the starting point for expanding the scope of the use of thin-film solar cells in other areas of life. However, experiments on the level of productivity did not stop. In 1999, scientists again surprised the supporters of the technology. They presented thin solar panels with an efficiency level of 32%.

These were structures made based on three transitions of gallium arsenide. Subsequently, several more organizations presented highly effective developments. One of them was able to create structures that were placed on the windows of Times Square. They had such a high level of power that it would be enough to provide a sufficient amount of electricity for about 6-7 houses.

Organic photovoltaic panels became another breakthrough in the field of thin-film technologies. They were created by a team of scientists from Johann Kepler University and immediately attracted the attention of many researchers. Subsequently, another team of researchers was able to achieve new results in the field of improving thin-film solar panels. They produced elements of a smaller thickness than those that were presented on the market. These are unique elements that functioned without the use of a substrate.

In the period from 1991 to the 2000s, there was also another important event that affected the development of thin film technology. Researchers and engineers have made significant progress in the work on third-generation materials. They were able to produce the first solar panel in which the solid semiconductor was replaced by a liquid electrolyte. This substance contained a light-absorbing dye. In this way, scientists have laid the foundations for the development of solar panels that are suitable for integration into various design projects.

A Period of Innovative Developments in the Field of Thin-Film Solar Panels

In 2009, a new era of work on technology improvement began. It all started with the fact that scientists introduced perovskite to the world. The active layer of this material provided more than 3% efficiency. It began to be used for the production of various structures, including thin-film models. A year later, scientists directed efforts to improve third-generation solar materials to expand the scope of application.

In addition, they faced the problem of high production costs and insufficient efficiency. This became the reason for starting new research aimed at finding opportunities to solve these gaps. Their results were impressive.

The team at Kyung-In Synthetic has succeeded in creating flexible solar panels printed on an industrial printer. Subsequently, ultralight cells were presented that could be held on the surface of a soap bubble. However, the process did not stop there. Scientists continue to work on creating new technologies.

What Are Modern Thin-Film Solar Panels?

A variety of technologies introduced to the market have been developed over many years by scientists, engineers, designers, and other specialists. There are several varieties available at present, each with pros and cons. The common feature of all structures in this category is that they are the simplest type of solar panels.

In addition, they can be produced in a much shorter time than conventional designs. The design of modern thin-film solar panels consists of three elements: a protective layer, a conductive sheet, and a photovoltaic material. The first element is designed to protect flexible elements from negative external influences. It consists of high-quality glass plastic and is placed in the upper part of the solar module.

The conductive sheet consists of a layer of a special material capable of conducting current (for example, aluminum). It provides transportation of produced electricity to the final consumer. Photoelectric material is the basis of thin-film structures. It provides the conversion of solar radiation into electric current. These are the following types of semiconductors: CGIS, a-Si, CdTe, and other varieties.

What Are the Benefits of Thin Film Solar Panels?

The main reason for choosing these varieties is convenience. Due to the peculiarities of the structure, thin-film photovoltaic elements can be located even in non-standard places. We are talking about those areas where, for technical reasons, it is impossible to install conventional solar panels made of crystalline silicon. In addition, the designs have several other advantages:

  • Lower carbon footprint
  • Reduced production costs (correspondingly lower price)
  • Lightweight
  • Ease of installation

The pliability of flexible solar panels allows them to be incorporated into an array of architectural projects because they can be colored.


A new generation of technologies was launched with the introduction of thin-film solar panels. Having gone through a difficult stage of development and decline, these solutions were still able to occupy high positions in the market. In particular, this is due to several unique characteristics and advantages, including flexibility, versatility, lower price, and environmental friendliness.

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