Monday, October 06, 2008

CIGS: the next big thing in solar?

Technology involving photovoltaics comprising copper indium gallium diselenide [CIGS] was hyped in WIRED.

For one patent, note US 7,306,823 [Nanosolar], issued on 11 Dec. 07, with first claim-->

A method for fabricating coated nanoparticles, comprising the steps of: obtaining core nanoparticles containing one or more elements from group IB and/or IIIA and/or VIA and coating the core nanoparticles with one or more layers of metal from group IB, IIIA or an element from group VIA in a controlled fashion such that the resulting coated nanoparticles have a desired stoichiometric ratio of elements, wherein the core nanoparticles contain copper.

Wired wrote:

If Gronet and his team [at Solyndra] can work out the manufacturing challenges and navigate the difficult financial waters, their unique design and tightly focused business model could lead them to profitability, even after government subsidies in Europe phase out.

"In any unsubisidized world, which is a few years down the road, you need a cost structure that allows you to compete," Gronet said. "Our panel, because it's CIGS and thin film, will beat the costs of any silicon system."


In an EETimes piece sub-titled Major solar panel makers hold relatively few patents, Rick Merritt wrote:

Canon, TSMC and Samsung are among the largest patent holders in solar photovoltaic panels, although they have no products in the field today. By contrast, many of the world's biggest producers of solar panels hold relatively few patents on the technology.

The report also noted the "conspicuous absence of a long list of major [solar panel] manufacturing players" from the list of top patent holders. Companies such as First Solar, Nanosolar, SunPower and SunTech ranked "well out of the top 15 patent holders," according to the report.

IPBiz notes that if CIGS were the "next big thing" in solar, the gross number of patent would NOT be the right metric. Sort of like racking up improvements in vacuum tubes after the transistor was invented.

A dunce cap to Rick Merritt and to Semiconductor Insights, a division of United Business Media, the publisher of EE Times, who also wrote:

The panel makers may be adopting a strategy of getting to market quickly by licensing or acquiring existing technology, the report said. "Surely, they may face big challenges from companies with more solid patent portfolios and who are savvier when it comes to protecting their intellectual property," it added.


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