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MoNa sputtering targets

Molybdenum-sodium sputtering targets for CIGS thin-film solar cells

CIGS (copper-indium-gallium-selenide) thin-film solar cells have an efficiency of more than 23% in the laboratory, which is the same level as solar cells made of polycrystalline silicon. One chemical element influences the efficiency of CIGS cells in a unique way: sodium. Even small quantities of sodium in a CIGS absorber increase the efficiency of the solar cells. With our MoNa sputtering targets, the sodium content in the CIGS absorber can be increased in a targeted manner, thereby enhancing the performance of the modules.  

Your advantages at a glance:

  • High metallic purity
    > 99.7%

  • Homogeneous microstructure and chemical composition

  • Variable
    Na doping

  • High electrical conductivity of 5-10 MS/m

Download our product specifications:

MoNa sputtering target specification

How is sodium introduced into the absorber layer?

In many CIGS modules, the lime-soda glass substrate is also the source of sodium. Temperatures of around 500°C occur during the manufacturing process for the absorber. At this temperature, sodium diffuses out of the glass via the molybdenum back contact into the absorber. The sodium distribution in the glass, however, is not homogeneous. The age of the glass and the storage conditions prior to coating also affect the quality of the sodium diffusion.

There is one key advantage of using molybdenum-sodium layers as the source of sodium: a diffusion barrier is first applied to any rigid or flexible substrate. In the case of a glass substrate, this may be a silicon nitride layer, for example. If steel foil is used, a chromium- or tungsten-based barrier prevents the diffusion of iron. A thin MoNa layer is then sputtered, followed by - as is normally the case - a layer of pure molybdenum as a back electrode layer.

MoNa sputtering target layer structure
Layer structure and sodium diffusion when using MoNa sputtering targets

The sodium content in the absorber can be controlled by the selected thickness of the MoNa layer and the sputter conditions. A conventional PVD system, which is also used to manufacture the molybdenum back contact, is used for the separation of the MoNa layer.

Properties of our MoNa sputtering targets

Fine microstructure

The sodium compound that is added to the MoNa sputtering target lies between the molybdenum grains. As we produce MoNa by means of a powder metallurgical process, the sodium particles are finely and evenly distributed. The electrical conductivity of a MoNa target is somewhat lower than that of pure molybdenum targets but perfectly sufficient for sputtering in DC mode.

Pure material

Whereas small quantities of sodium increase the efficiency of the CIGS cell, other chemical elements such as iron or chromium cause a marked loss of efficiency. To keep the content of metal impurities in particular as low as possible, we take great care to ensure clean process management and the high quality of our source materials. We monitor the manufacturing route of our targets starting with the raw material, which means we can guarantee the exceptional purity of our metal powders.

Our range includes MoNa sputtering targets with a sodium content of 5% and 10%, which corresponds to 1.3 and 2.6 wt.%. Our MoNa sputtering targets are produced as planar targets and as rotary targets for an even higher material yield in the application.


MoNa sputtering targets as an object of research

The Swiss EMPA Institute has investigated sodium doping in the CIGS process with MoNa targets from Plansee. The EMPA working group for thin films and photovoltaics, under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Tiwari, investigated how MoNa sputtering targets can be used to optimum effect to manufacture CIGS solar cells. Back contacts made of MoNa enable sodium doping in the CIGS absorber and thereby enhance the performance of the cell. At relatively low separation temperatures, the cells placed on steel foil achieved an efficiency of 14.4%. Our coating experts Dr. Christoph Adelhelm and Enrico Franzke were involved in the research project. Read the detailed results of this research work. The complete article, entitled "Sodium-doped molybdenum back contacts for flexible Cu(In,Ga)Se2 solar cells - ScienceDirect", is available for download from the Elsevier publishing house.

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A further publication deals with the optimum sputter conditions for doping the absorber with as much sodium as possible.

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Other well-known research institutes for thin-film solar cells have also investigated the effect of MoNa targets. The Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) deals specifically with MoNa on flexible substrates. Read the results in the article "Alternative sodium sources for Cu(In,Ga)Se2 thin-film solar cells on flexible substrates - ScienceDirect", published by the Elsevier publishing house.

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