General information

Started: 01/10/2010
Theme: Materials for Energy & Light
Program manager: Guido Desie (Agfa)

José Spinnewyn - 200x200

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* Former members

SOPPOM - developed know-how

SOPPOM was launched in 2010 as a SIM program focusing on the formation of photovoltaic modules by solution based processing (thin films). It involved multiple industrial and academic partners, each bringing in specific scientific and technological know-how and recognizing market opportunities. In total, 4 SBO projects and 3 ICON projects have been initiated within the SOPPOM program, each with specific partial objectives within the broad program level aim to develop printed solar cells. It concerns the following projects:

Photovoltaic cells

The SOPPOM program faced a steep learning curve and eventually, printed CIGS solar cells were developed with a close to 5% conversion efficiency. However, as from 2011, the massive supply of affordable Si-based PV modules by Chinese manufacturers invalidated the economic rationale underlying low-cost printed PV and thus the original roadmap of the SOPPOM program.

However, the original idea underlying the SOPPOM program applies to far more product areas than photovoltaics: in the field of electronics, photonics or energy, printing is pursued as a low cost and substrate independent manufacturing technology. Examples include: electronic circuitry, lighting devices or batteries.

Within this broader context of printed functionalities, the SOPPOM results constitute highly generic know-how that is often transferrable from one particular application to another. This includes: knowledge regarding precursors, ink formulation, processing of precursors into films, coatings or sheets using various printing approaches, and regarding equipment: a unique and versatile automated platform for the formation of nanocrystals has been developed and installed to bridge the gap between lab scale quantities and volumes needed for first tests in industrial environment.

SOPPOM+ - broadened scope

Given this body of know-how developed within SOPPOM and the more general need for printing as manufacturing technology within diverse fields, it was concluded that the scope of the original SOPPOM program could be broadened towards printed functionalities in general. Three main directions are foreseen (see also figure below):

  • Printed electronics
  • Printed photonics
  • Printed energy
SOPPOM+: schematic overview

A first project within this broadened “SOPPOM+” scope is the ICON “METALINK”, exploring a number of technologies for printing of metallic inks for conductive functionalities.

Printed energy



The purpose of Q-COMIRSE is the development of a new generation of sensors and imagers responsive to short-wave infrared light. Such devices can be used in consumer markets, security, medical imaging, automotive or surveillance and inspection. The research challenge of this project is to develop SWIR photodiodes and imagers using environmentally friendly, printed quantum dot absorbers.


Light spectra for lighting and display applications, can only be made at the expense of device complexity, cost and energy efficiency. By using blue LEDs as the sole primary light source, QD-enhancement can overcome this, yet the technology faces issues of regulation on materials, stability and cost. QUALIDI wants to overcome these limitations with luminescent, quantum-dot enhanced light guides.


The ambition is to prove that actual Internet of Things (IoT) applications with nanosilver-based inks will become part of our daily life. Two important processes will be tackled in this project: 1) to demonstrate that nano-based inks can be produced with consistent quality, at large scale and at affordable cost, and 2) to demonstrate that nano-based inks can be integrated into existing industrial processes without major adaptations.


In lighting and display technology, Quantum Dots (QDs) can bring the combined benefit of enhanced performance and reduced power consumption, and lead to tailored, spectrum-by-design light sources for special applications. However, a direct transfer of QD-technology to these broader markets faces issues with either performance, stability, cost or composition. QDoCCo adresses the key step to enable that shift.


Internet has become the central link in all computer technologies. Over the coming years it is obvious that this trend will expand further to everyday articles. To materialize this “Internet of Things” requires cheap and flexible electronics. By targeting the printing of metallic conductors, this project aims at proving the technological and economic feasibility of incorporating internet connectivity in common consumer products.


A fully printed solar cell requires optimization and large volume production of different precursors, related to each layer in the stack. APSYNC has the following high-level objectives: 1) production of CIGS, Quantum Dots and Transparent Conductive Oxide nanocrystals, 2) high-throughput screening of reaction chemistry and 3) developing concepts for active synthesis steering in the developed batch reactors.


To reduce cost/Watt of a solar cell, research projects typically aim for increasing the cell or the manufacturing efficiency. This project however aims at optimization at module level by optimizing the non-solar cell components of a solar module to improve the total cost efficiency. This by adding functionality to the encapsulant layer: a “smart” encapsulating layer can increase reliability and influence light management.


The objective of OPvTech is to identify novel materials, inorganic nanoparticles and quantum dots with high potential in hybrid Organic Photovoltaic cells. When promising candidates have been selected, research is directed towards better performance, higher operational stability and easier, faster and lower cost production. There is strong interaction between this project and the SBO’s absCIGS and weTCOat.


The main objective of the research ICON project CIGStack is the development of: 1) substrates and inks compatible with a high throughput deposition process and 2) a concept for inline activation process for the non-vacuum, high-throughput and low-cost production of thin film CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Diselenide) photovoltaic modules. The materials to be researched are CIGS and AZO (Aluminium doped Zinc Oxide).


PhyCIGS focusses on understanding the physics of a Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) photovoltaic (PV) stack, specifically the electro-optical properties and studying CIGS and Transparent Conductive Oxide (TCO) layers. Objectives of the project are: 1) developing a baseline process for a CIGS solar cell stack and 2) building technological understanding to allow an investment in cell integration capability.


The SBO research project weTCOat is all about deposition of Transparent Conductive Oxide (TCO) coatings using wet deposition technologies, more specifically for photovoltaic applications. The entire focus of this WeTCOat research project is on solution deposition of Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) and Aluminium doped Zinc Oxide (AZO) for inorganic, as well as organic thin film solar cells.


AbsCIGS features research along the CIGS- (Copper Indium Gallium Selenide) and the OPV- (Organic PhotoVoltaic) track. The CIGS -track aims at: 1) a lab-scale non-vacuum baseline process for the formation of CIGS absorber layers and 2) scientific understanding of the steps in the process. The OPV-track aims at: 1) incorporation of nanoparticles in the OPV bulk heterojunction and 2) include other approaches.

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