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Cu electroplating cuts solar cell fabrication cost

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:heterojunction? silicon solar cell? copper-electroplating?

Kaneka Corp. and Imec have recently revealed their silver-free heterojunction silicon solar cells that were obtained by applying copper electroplating technology. It was developed by Kaneka based on Imec's existing copper-electroplating technology. According to them, the solar cell achieved conversion efficiency of more than 21 percent in 6in silicon substrates with an electroplated copper contact grid on top of the transparent conductive oxide layer.

Today, silver screen printing is the technology of choice for the realization of the top grid electrode in heterojunction silicon solar cells. The difficulty of lowering resistivity and thinning the metal line in silver screen printing prevents from achieving high efficiency and low cost. In the presented silver-free approach, the screen-printed silver is replaced by electroplated copper. Formation of top grid electrode with copper-electroplating in heterojunction silicon solar cells is the world first result, they claimed. Copper-electroplating is an economical and industry-proven process. This solution not only overcomes the disadvantages of the silver screen printing, but provides advantages such as enabling higher efficiencies and reducing fabrication costs, added the institutions.

The collaboration between Kaneka and Imec, according to the organizations, comprises the improvement of Kaneka's thin-film solar cells and the development of next-generation heterojunction cells.

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