A thin film photovoltaic device (100) with a tunable, minimally conductive buffer (128) layer is provided. The photovoltaic device (100) may include a back contact (150), a transparent front contact stack (120), and an absorber (140) positioned between the front contact stack (120) and the back contact (150). The front contact stack (120) may include a low resistivity transparent conductive oxide (TCO) layer (124) and a buffer layer (128) that is proximate to the absorber layer (140). The photovoltaic device (100) may also include a window layer (130) between the buffer layer (128) and the absorber (140). In some cases, the buffer layer (128) is minimally conductive, with its resistivity being tunable, and the buffer layer (128) may be formed as an alloy from a host oxide and a high-permittivity oxide. The high-permittivity oxide may further be chosen to have a bandgap greater than the host oxide.
 The United States Government has rights in this invention under Contract No. DE-AC36-08GO28308 between the United States Department of Energy and the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, the Manager and Operator of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.