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Low Cost Metallization Inks for Photovoltaics

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Commercial Si wafer solar cells employ screen printed Ag grids as the front contact and Al layers as the back contact. The drive to decrease cost is pushing manufacturers to seek both lower cost materials and methods. One obvious material change is to replace Ag with lower cost metals such as Ni and Cu. Shifting to thinner Si wafers is another reasonable cost saving measure, but it will also necessitate replacing contact methods like screen printing. Inkjet and aerosol jet printing are excellent non-contact choices. These tools have been incorporated into NREL's Atmospheric Processing Platform, along with complementary rapid thermal processing capabilities. We have used these tools to deposit Ni/Cu bilayer grids as the front contacts and Al layers as the back contacts on 21 cm2 Si solar cells. To our knowledge, this is the first time all non-contact printed metal contacts on Si solar cells have been demonstrated. These studies also show the potential of non-contact printed Al, Ni, and Cu inks to contribute to the fabrication of low-cost photovoltaic devices.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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  • For more than 30 years, IS&T's series of digital printing conferences have been the leading forum for discussion of advances and new directions in 2D and 3D printing technologies. A comprehensive, industry-wide conference that brings together industry and academia, this meeting includes all aspects of the hardware, materials, software, images, and applications associated with digital printing systems?particularly those involved with additive manufacturing and fabrication?including bio-printing, printed electronics, page-wide, drop-on-demand, desktop and continuous ink jet, toner-based systems, and production digital printing, as well as the engineering capability, optimization, and science involved in these fields. In 2016, the conference changed its name formally to Printing for Fabrication to better reflect the content of the meeting and the evolving technology of printing.

    Please note: For purposes of its Digital Library content, IS&T defines Open Access as papers that will be downloadable in their entirety for free in perpetuity. Copyright restrictions on papers vary; see individual paper for details.

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