CIGS, or copper indium gallium selenide, is being used as the key ingredient in solar panels. Silicon technically is more efficient at harvesting energy from the sun, but CIGS can be printed on flexible sheets. Proponents of the material, such as HelioVolt and Nanosolar, say CIGS can be incorporated into roof tiles and building materials, making the solar technology invisible and the benefits it offers cheap.
In Wales, Shell Solar set up the CIGS-based panels shown in the photo at left. At right, CIGS cells are printed at Nanosolar, a solar-power company based in Palo Alto, Calif.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
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Bill Detwiler is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.