The Fraunhofer ISE is able to “print” solar cells in just 0.6 seconds

Researchers from the German institute succeeded in multiplying by 1.5 the productivity of the metallization process by using a new printing machine for the first time.

Photovoltaic energy is produced faster and faster. This is thanks to new research carried out in Germany by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in collaboration with the company ASYS Automatisierungssysteme.

The German work focused on a particular step in the production of conventional silicon solar cells: metallization.

What is?

The deposition of thin strips of metal on the wafer to form conductive contacts.

Flat-panel printing has always been the standard process for this step, but Fraunhofer ISE scientists tested a new approach aimed at accelerating photovoltaic production.

Metallization by screen printing is currently limited to a yield of approximately 0.9 seconds per solar cell. This makes the printing step a bottleneck in the production process of silicon solar cells, as well as in the production of electronic components in many other industries.

Dr Florian Clément, director of the Production Technology department.

How to overcome this obstacle?

With a new machine designed by the Institute and manufactured by ASYS.

The machine is equipped with a “modular” and “high-speed” automatic transport system that combines rotary screen printing and flexographic printing.

Depending on the needs, it is possible to activate one or the other, also integrating other technologies.

Using the new machine, the team achieved a cycle time of just 0.6 seconds per solar cell, which increased printing productivity by 1.5 times.

And not only that. The process can be exported to other production lines, including hydrogen technologies.

This is not the first time that the Fraunhofer ISE has devoted itself to metallization with the aim of optimizing the manufacture of solar cells. In 2019, the institute developed a process to reduce the amount of silver used by 30%, producing extremely tight metal contacts with perfectly functional electrical properties.

Via www.ise.fraunhofer.de

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