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Title: Silver-free Metallization Technology for Producing High Efficiency, Industrial Silicon Solar Cells

Technical Report ·
DOI:· OSTI ID:1432485
 [1];  [1];  [2];  [2]; ;  [1];  [1];  [3]
  1. Technic Inc., Cranston, RI (United States)
  2. Arizona State Univ., Tempe, AZ (United States)
  3. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States)

The goal of this project is to provide a commercially viable Ag-free metallization technology that will both reduce cost and increase efficiency of standard silicon solar cells. By removing silver from the front grid metallization and replacing it with lower cost nickel, copper, and tin metal, the front grid direct materials costs will decrease. This reduction in material costs should provide a path to meeting the Sunshot 2020 goal of 1 dollar / WDC. As of today, plated contacts are not widely implemented in large scale manufacturing. For organizations that wish to implement pilot scale manufacturing, only two equipment choices exist. These equipment manufacturers do not supply plating chemistry. The main goal of this project is to provide a chemistry and equipment solution to the industry that enables reliable manufacturing of plated contacts marked by passing reliability results and higher efficiencies than silver paste front grid contacts. To date, there have been several key findings that point to plated contacts performing equal to or better than the current state of the art silver paste contacts. Poor adhesion and reliability concerns are a few of the hurdles for plated contacts, specifically plated nickel directly on silicon. A key finding of the Phase 1 budget period is that the plated contacts have the same adhesion as the silver paste controls. This is a huge win for plated contacts. With very little optimization work, state of the art electrical results for plated contacts on laser ablated lines have been demonstrated with efficiencies up to 19.1% and fill factors ~80% on grid lines 40-50 um wide. The silver paste controls with similar line widths demonstrate similar electrical results. By optimizing the emitter and grid design for the plated contacts, it is expected that the electrical performance will exceed the silver paste controls. In addition, cells plated using Technic chemistry and equipment pass reliability testing; i.e. 1000 hours damp heat and 200 thermal cycles, with results similar to silver paste control cells. 100 cells have been processed through Technic’s novel demo plating tool built and installed during budget period 2. This plating tool performed consistently from cell to cell, providing gentle handling for the solar cells. An agreement has been signed with a cell manufacturer to process their cells through our plating chemistry and equipment. Their main focus for plated contacts is to reduce the direct materials cost by utilizing nickel, copper, and tin in place of silver paste. Based on current market conditions and cost model calculations, the overall savings offered by plated contacts is only 3.5% dollar/W versus silver paste contacts; however, the direct materials savings depend on the silver market. If silver prices increase, plated contacts may find a wider adoption in the solar industry in order to keep the direct materials costs down for front grid contacts.

Research Organization:
Technic Inc., Cranston, RI (United States)
Sponsoring Organization:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Renewable Power Office. Solar Energy Technologies Office
Contributing Organization:
Arizona State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
DOE Contract Number:
Report Number(s):
Country of Publication:
United States