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Electrodeposition of Gallium for Photovoltaics

Stage: Development

Electrodeposition is a method for the low-cost formation of CIGS films that bypasses the expensive steps required for physical vapor deposition (PVD). In addition, electrodeposition has the potential to provide high quality film with very low capital investment, to control deposition rates, and to effectively use materials. However, the electroplating solutions used for the electrodeposition of CIGS films are traditionally not suitable for gallium (Ga) due to Ga’s high plating potential. This high plating potential can result in excessive hydrogen generation at the cathode and can subsequently result in low cathodic efficiency and deposited films with poor quality. To improve upon this limitation, NREL researchers have developed an innovative electroplating solution and electrodeposition technology to form CIGS-based cells.

This innovative aqueous-based electroplating solution consists of GaCl3, NaF, and NaCl and enables the deposition of Ga film for the formation of CIGS cells. In addition, this electroplating solution can be used to deposit Cu and In films, where the resulting Cu, In, and Ga layers can then be annealed to result in a CIGS-based device that consists of uniform layers and has an efficiency level of 11.71%.

For more information, please contact Bill Hadley at Bill.Hadley@nrel.gov

ROI 11-66

Applications and Industries

  • Photovoltaics
  • CIGS films


  • Low-cost
  • Produces uniform film
  • Enables the deposition of Ga


US Patent 94...9.pdf

Aug 30, 2019