The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is interested in developing low-cost highly efficient solar cells on light-weight flexible substrates, which will ultimately lower the mass-specific power (W/kg) of the cell allowing extra payload for missions in space as well as cost reduction. In addition, thin film cells are anticipated to have greater resistance to radiation damage in space, prolonging their lifetime. The flexibility of the substrate has the added benefit of enabling roll-to-roll processing. The first major thin film solar cell was the "CdS solar cell" - a heterojunction between p-type CuxS and n-type CdS. The research on CdS cells started in the late 1950s and the efficiency in the laboratory was up to about 10 % in the 1980s. Today, three different thin film materials are leading the field. They include amorphous Si, CdTe, and Cu(In,Ga)Se2 (CIGS). The best thin film solar cell efficiency of 19.2 % was recently set by CIGS on glass. Typical module efficiencies, however, remain below 15 %.
18th Space Photovoltaic Research and Technology Conference; 285-289; NASA/CP-2005-213431