European Commission
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Description of the organisation

ZSW is one of the leading European research institutes in the fields of photovoltaics and new energy storage technologies with a strong expertise on thin-film photovoltaics, especially Cu(In,Ga)Se2 and organic solar cells. Apart from coevaporation processes for highest efficiencies, ZSW does also investigate and develop low-cost approaches via vacuum-free preparation routes. Furthermore ZSW’s photovoltaics test laboratory “Solab” and outdoor test fields in Germany and Barcelona are specialized in module life-time testing and parameter tracking.
The photovoltaic materials research group (MAT) operates two complete CIGS solar module manufacturing lines for 30 x 30 cm² glass substrates and for roll-to-roll coting of foils including versatile analytical equipment. New cost-effective deposition processes such as print technologies are being developed for new organic and inorganic semiconductor systems in a special laboratory.

Main contact

Erwin Lotter

+49 711 7870 261




Role in the Project

ZSW successfully transferred the CIGS technology into the industrial production line of Wuerth Solar (now Manz CIGS Technology GmbH). In 2011 a world record thin-film solar cell efficiency of 20.3% at an area of 0.5 cm² was realised and improved to 20.8% in 2013. Our first goal within the project is to apply concentration of light to highly efficiencient small area solar cells and improve efficiency well beyond the actual limits. Based on the experience of this first step we will apply this technique to low-cost printed CIGS microcells.
ZSW expects from the project a gain of its experience in manufacturing highly efficient as well as cost effective thin-film solar cells.


Key people involved

Dr. Erwin Lotter has more than twenty years experience in thin film solar cell fabrication. Upon completion of his PhD thesis on amorphous silicon, he started working on the up-scaling of the CIS technology at ZSW, where he is responsible for the patterning of CIGS modules. He has advanced experience in laser processing, process automation and several analytical methods. He has coordinated national and international projects.



Richard Menner has gained experience as a physicist in the field of CIGS thin-film photovoltaics during the last thirty years starting at the University of Stuttgart (IPE). He joined ZSW in 1993 and is responsible project manager for TCO sputtering as well as photovoltaics measurement and analysis. He supported the ramp up of the Wuerth Solar CIS pilot line and ‘CISfab’. He has coordinated national and international projects.



Dr. Erik Ahlswede - PhD - has 10 years experience at ZSW in both inorganic and organic solar cell development and is leading the "new materials" group. Currently his focus is on printable low-cost approaches for CIGS and kesterite thin film solar cells. He was involved in the EU project NOVACIGS, dealing with the development of nanoparticle based CIGS solar cells.



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