Solar Frontier and IBM have agreed to collaborate on the joint development of copper-zinc-tin-sulfur thin-film photovoltaics technology. IBM, which said in February that it had achieved 9.6% conversion efficiencies on champion cells made with the earth-abundant materials, also recently announced that it has partnered with DelSolar to work on CZTS.
The collaboration between Solar Frontier and IBM pairs the Japan-based CIS thin-film company's development and manufacturing expertise with Big Blue's strong R&D capabilities. The CZTS joint development program will mainly take place at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY.
CZTS-based technology uses materials that avoid heavy metals and are readily available at a lower cost. Through the utilization of these materials, the project's goal is the creation of next-generation photovoltaic technology that lowers the cost of solar-produced electricity, enabling the renewable energy to become an everyday alternative to carbon-based sources.
“Solar Frontier’s extensive experience in the research and development of CIS thin-film photovoltaic technologies has delivered numerous conversion efficiency breakthroughs that have resulted in world-class records,” said CTO Satoru Kuriyagawa. “We are interested in exploring CZTS for its evolutionary compatibility with our CIS thin-film technology. The goals of the project correspond with Solar Frontier’s mission to combine both economical and ecological solar energy solutions.”
“Solar Frontier is one of the world’s leading experts in CIS-based thin-film solar panels, and we look forward to working with them.” said T.C. Chen, VP of science and technology at IBM Research.
“Adding Solar Frontier’s deep expertise in thin-film-based solar device technology to this project will strengthen the collaborative effort we began in this area with Tokyo Ohka Kogyo for developing chemistry and tooling expertise; and more recently adding DelSolar’s solar module and manufacturing expertise. This team will significantly increase our ability to create CZTS photovoltaic technology that achieves sustainable grid parity.”
Further details about the personnel deployment, financial arrangements, or length of the agreement have not been disclosed.