The future pivots on CIGS and its inroads in solar

Apr 20, 2009 | 09:35 AM |

The indium market's focus might be tuned to liquid crystal displays (LCDs) currently, but analysts see the solar industry as a major bright spot in driving future recycling needs.

An anticipated growth in demand for solar semiconductors made from copper, indium, gallium, (di)selenide (CIGS) material is expected to drive increasing use of indium, leading to an increased focus on improving indium recycling methods for solar semiconductors.

The market is divided primarily into two segments silicon wafers and thin-film transistors (TFTs). Silicon-wafer-based solar semiconductors represent more than 90 percent of the market, understandable given their ability to more efficiently harvest light with a 20-percent photon conversion rate.

Indium is used primarily in CIGS in the solar industry, with TFTs accounting for only a sliver of the market. With a conversion efficiency rate of 10 percent, CIGS has a significant amount of ground to make up before it can be viewed as competitive. However, advocates argue that CIGS can be as efficient as silicon, having achieved more than 15 percent efficiency in laboratory tests. With further improvements, analysts believe CIGS could emerge as a strong competitor to silicon and drive demand for indium.....

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