High impact photovoltaic research: LIST as a crucial partner

Published on 16/04/2018

In the framework of its activities in Materials Research and Technology (MRT), the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) is an active partner in the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) project named “Gas-phase alkali doping of chalcogenide semiconductors” (GALDOCHS). In this context, a research article co-authored by LIST has been published in Nature Communications as the result of a fruitful collaboration with the University of Luxembourg.


GALDOCHS is a research project funded by the FNR and led by Dr. Diego Colombara. It was initiated in 2015 and ended in May 2017. The research focused on the most efficient thin film solar cell technology, known as CIGS.

Photovoltaic solar cells are able to convert sunlight directly into electrical power and CIGS solar panels are commercially widespread. CIGS cells take their name from the elements contained in them: copper, indium, gallium and selenium. It was known from long time that their properties can be improved by addition of sodium. More recently, heavier alkali metals such as potassium, rubidium and caesium have also improved their performance. Nevertheless, the role of alkali elements has not been fully understood yet. The ultimate goal of this project was to improve the basic understanding of alkali metal doping in order to enhance solar cell performance.

About the publication in Nature Communications

LIST has played a key role on a success story to dispute long-held assumptions on solar cell fabrication. The findings published in Nature Communications are the result of a strong cooperation between the University of Luxembourg, LIST and four collaborating institutions from Germany, France and Italy. 

LIST researchers in materials characterization, Nathalie Valle (work package leader in GALDOCHS), Ingrid C. Infante, Yves Fleming, Mael Guennou and Brahime El Adib have pushed the capabilities of LIST to state-of-the-art standards with in-depth secondary ion mass spectrometry, X-ray diffraction and Raman characterization techniques. The study relied on LIST measurements and know-how to provide a wealth of information that complement cutting-edge techniques employed by other collaborating institutions - notably the Max Planck Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH, where the same set of samples analyzed at LIST was studied at the nanoscale by atom probe tomography.

> Further information on this topic can be found on uni.lu

> Feel free to contact the project leader Diego Colombara (now Marie Curie fellow at INL in Portugal) and Nathalie Valle, the point of contact at LIST, via email. 

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