Selective Plating of Copper on Transparent Conductive Oxide, Solar Cell Structure and Manufacturing Method


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.

Potential Applications

  • 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

Dr. Stanislau Herasimenka's directory webpage

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