Metallization is the main source of increased manufacturing costs and limited efficiency in silicon heterojunction solar cells. A current method of metallization is silver screen printing. However, copper can also be used for metallization, as it is 100 times cheaper than silver and has better conductivity. Current copper-plating techniques utilize photolithography. Photolithography can achieve the resolution necessary for copper-plating, but the high manufacturing costs and complexity of the process reduce the appeal of copper. Therefore, there is a need for a cost effective, high-resolution copper-plating method that can also increase solar cell efficiency.
Researchers at Arizona State University have developed a low-cost, high-resolution method of forming copper electrodes on the surface of solar cells on transparent conductive oxide (TCO) layers. This novel copper-plating method achieves the resolution of photolithography through a simple and economical process. Copper’s low cost can also replace expensive silver screen printing methods. Additionally, this method provides an inexpensive solution to form a second anti-reflection coating in a solar cell. This increases the overall performance and efficiency of the solar cell.
- Photovoltaic Technology
- Solar Power
- Renewable Energy
Benefits and Advantages
- Simplified Process – As compared to similar methods, such as photolithography.
- Cost Effective –
- Copper is cheaper than the silver paste used for screen printing.
- Manufacturing costs are less expensive than photolithography.
- Increased Efficiency - Forms a second anti-reflection coating in a solar cell.
- Improved Conductivity - Plated copper is >10 times more conductive than silver paste used in screen printing.
- Enhanced Resolution - Can achieve <30 micron resolution and a better aspect ratio than screen printing.
For more information about the inventor(s) and their research, please see