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Solar Materials

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  • Economical coatings that offer improved performance
    Intellectual Property Available to License
    US Patent 10,131,991; US Patent 7,709,056
    • Precise Application of Transparent Conductive Oxide Coatings for Flat Panel Displays and Photovoltaic Cells (ANL-IN-06-076 and ANL-IN-09-080)
    New ALD reaction chamber containing 12-in x 12-in piece of plate glass

    The Invention

    Argonne has developed new thin-film, transparent conducting oxide (TCO) coatings for large panel displays and photovoltaic (PV) cells. 

    These new TCO coatings are deposited using atomic layer deposition (ALD). ALD employs gaseous precursors to make thin films with thicknesses from atomic mono layer to micron dimensions. This process enables atomic-level control over film thickness and composition, and eliminates line-of-sight or constant-exposure constraints which limit conventional film deposition processes. 

    Argonne has scaled up the ALD process and successfully demonstrated conformal coating of ITO (Indium Tin Oxide) TCO over 3D nano- and micro-structures at this scale. 


    • Improves flat-panel performance due to thinner, more transparent conductive coatings; 
    • Reduces materials consumption and expense due to improved coating precision; 
    • Provides uniform coating of complex, 3D nano-structures such as electrodes for next-generation PV cells; 
    • Eliminates line-of-sight or constant-exposure constraints which limit conventional film deposition processes; and 
    • Reduces product rejection resulting from defect free coatings. 

    Applications and Industries 

    • Photovoltaics 
    • Electronics

    Developmental Stage 

    Proof of concept. The production cost analysis showing advantages over state-of-the-art manufacturing has not yet been completed by Argonne. While the coating process has been demonstrated at scale, the performance of a flat panel display or PV cell has not been physically demonstrated in a full scale device. 

  • Graham D. Fletcher

    Graham Fletcher has a background in quantum chemistry and supercomputing. His research interests focus on the development of highly scalable methods and algorithms for the accurate and reliable prediction of chemical phenomena.
  • Materials Science

    The Materials Science division emphasizes the study of the structure and function of novel materials to solve America’s energy challenges.