Solar Technologies & Applications

TNO develops, industrialises and applies technology for the production and integration of thin-film solar cells in the environment. TNO cooperates with international partners in 'shared research programmes like Solliance Solar Research, a partnership between research institutes, universities and industrial partners

Behind the scenes at our expertis group Solar Technologies & Applications

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Do you have a question about our expertise group Solar Technologies & Applications? Get in touch with André Schilt


New solar cells

Thin film solar cells are created using different deposition techniques directly on a rigid or flexible carrier. This gives a high degree of design freedom and integrability, in terms of form as well as dimensional and electrical design. Some of these techniques are relatively new, but have great potential.

After only a few years of research, Perovskite solar cells produced on a lab scale have a conversion efficiency comparable to traditional solar cells. This type also offers the possibility to make cells semi-transparent, thereby enabling application in windows, coloured façades and tandems with other cell types. TNO is working on further upscaling and industrialisation of this technology, which is expected to reduce production costs well below the current price of solar panels.

Work is also being done within the module technology group to further optimise the production of solar cells based on CIGS (CIGS is a crystal structure of copper, indium, gallium and selenium). TNO has a reference R&D CIGS production line for this. STA,  together with industrial partners, is developing materials, processes and new generation roll-to-roll production equipment for better and cheaper CIGS solar cells.

Aesthetic integration

Thin film solar cell

In order to make the transition to electrical energy possible, solar cells will have to be used on a very large scale, using every available surface. The new technologies make seamless integration of solar cells in buildings and infrastructure affordable. By giving solar cells a different look (colour and structure of the surface) than black/blue panels, it becomes more attractive for housing associations, consumers and building managers to use them in façade or window glass.

New (aesthetic) panels integrated into systems can be subjected to long-term loading at our test facility SolarBEAT. This enables an extensive evaluation of practice-based performance versus cost.


Thanks to its extensive experience in the development of thin-film solar technology and the application and testing of solar panels in general, TNO has a broad base of expertise at your disposal.

  • various vacuum deposition technologies, including sputtering (PVD), chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and plasma enhanced CVD (PECVD)
  • laser technology for insulating and connecting different conductive layers in thin-film solar cells
  • the technology behind conductive transparent layers (TCOs)
  • inkjet technology for the application of solution-based layers in a thin-film solar cell
  • techno-economic modelling of new technologies
  • techno-economic modelling and LCOE modelling based on real life testing
  • extensive testing facilities for long-term practical testing of solar panels

The combination of the above areas of expertise means that TNO can develop solutions on an industrial scale, suitable for equipment and processes for thin-film solar cells.

Our work

SolarBEAT outdoor test facility for BIPV(T)

SolarBEAT facilitates the development, testing and monitoring of innovative solar energy products in a real life environment. Both solar thermal and solar electricity are within the scope of this test... Read more
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André Schilt MSc

  • Thin film
  • solar
  • plasma technology