A research team led by IBM has developed an efficient thin-film solar cell using the abundant materials, copper zinc and tin.

Currently, thin-film solar cells are generally made from copper, iridium, gallium and selenium (CIGS). The last three of these are obtained as a by-product of other mineral production. Because they are only produced as a by-product, there is no way to scale up production to meet increasing demand and they are becoming scarcer.

The new cells have achieved an efficiency of 11.1% and the research team believes that they can achieve 15% which would make them a viable alternative to CIGS cells.

Because the new cells are made from abundant materials, they are lower in cost and production can be easily scaled-up.