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CdTe Devices with Improved Properties

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

Although most solar panels installed presently are composed of silicon, thin film Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) panels offer a number of advantages including lower degradation rate and better performance at high temperature as well as lower overall material and energy requirements in manufacturing. As silicon panels continue to drop in price, CdTe performance improvements are essential for the technology to remain competitive. One potential area of improvement for CdTe panels is lower than expected open circuit voltage, which implies a short minority carrier lifetime; this has a direct negative impact on cell efficiency. If new CdTe panels are developed that can improve this characteristic the adoption of this technology could be spurred.  


Researchers at NREL have developed new methods of CdTe manufacturing that have resulted in devices with improved efficiency. By varying the relative proportion of Cd and Te in the device so that the material is composed of a non-stoichiometric ratio of the two elements, either Cd-rich or Te-rich, devices with improved performance can be created. These devices exhibit lower recombination with a minority carrier lifetime of over 10 ns while resulting in a crystalline lattice structure that is energetically receptive for the incorporation of additional dopants with minimal impact on the minority carrier lifetime. In conjunction with each other these two achievements allow the fabrication of CdTe photovoltaic devices with improved efficiency. 

  • Increased minority carrier lifetime
  • Receptive to additional acceptor and donor dopants
  • Improved device efficiency
Applications and Industries
  • CdTe photovoltaics
  • Utility scale solar
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 9,147,793
CdTe devices and method of manufacturing same
A method of producing polycrystalline CdTe materials and devices that incorporate the polycrystalline CdTe materials are provided. In particular, a method of producing polycrystalline p-doped CdTe thin films for use in CdTe solar cells in which the CdTe thin films possess enhanced acceptor densities and minority carrier lifetimes, resulting in enhanced efficiency of the solar cells containing the CdTe material are provided.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory 09/29/2015
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
NREL ROI 11-85PrototypeAvailable09/07/201709/07/2017

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To: Bill Hadley<>