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Development of Photovoltaic Fibres

Project Code: 0905-09

Research Need

In contrast to traditional silicon cells, thin film photovoltaic (PV) cells consist of a complex series of layers. The material properties required for each layer are relatively well understood, in respect of both composition and morphology, but research has tended to focus specifically on the active layer, rather than cell architecture or assembly methods.

The inherent flexibility of the active materials (compared to silicon) opens up a wide range of possible structures and processes, which ultimately result an enhanced cost/benefit analysis for PV devices, increasing early adoption and enhancing capability. These range from the direct application of photovoltaic structures to buildings to the incorporation of photovoltaic charging structures in military equipment to reduce the burden on the dismounted soldier.

Each of the individual layers has been demonstrated successfully, but this project will consider what is required to integrate them to best effect into a device architecture. This will ultimately be demonstrated through the production of a demonstrator in the form of a photovoltaic tape/fibre.


To assess the fabrication sequence for a thin film PV device, considering both the individual layers and the overall architecture.

To demonstrate the approach to device fabrication through the production of a photovoltaic tape/fibre.

Project Outline

The project will consist of two sequential work packages.

WP1 – Assessment of fabrication sequence.

Each layer within the PV structure will be assessed individually to establish options for material properties and deposition processes. The relevant layers include:

Active layer(s)
Surface enhancement

Additionally, interconnection methods will be considered.

This work will take the form of a literature study, drawing from both academic and commercial sources. The options for each layer will be considered both individually and in respect of their impact on other layers within the structure. Consideration will be given to the anticipated performance of each layer, relative to both the desired characteristics and (where the process requires compromise on theoretical ‘best practice’) the known peak performance. Technology maturity will also be considered for each process.

WP2 – Production of demonstrator

A demonstrator will be produced in the form of a PV fibre. The production method for each layer in the structure will be selected based on the assessment above, based on a combination of performance and risk. Where a benefit can be identified from introducing a less mature technology, development work will be performed to de-risk the production of a specific layer.

Relevant Industry Sectors: Power, ESM, C&E (e.g. Defence and Modern Built Environment)

Technical and Economic Benefits

Enhanced understanding of current issues in PV.

Capacity to provide technological solutions to enhance thin-film PV.

Ability to implement PV solutions in a range of device architectures to address emerging applications.

Development of coating technology focussed on needs of an emerging market.

For more information please email: