Manufacturing costs for high efficiency solar cells will now be significantly less thanks to a high-throughput industrial silicon-ink inkjet printing system, according to developers OTB Solar in partnership with Innovalight.
The system installed at Innovalight's facility in Sunnyvale, California uses touch-less inkjet printing of silicon-ink, which the company claim can halve the number of costly manufacturing processes required to produce highly efficient solar cells.
The printing system also allows for high volume production of ultra-thin crystalline silicon solar cells with thicknesses as little as 50 microns. Currently mass manufactured solar cells are nearly 4 times thicker and require more material with twice as many processing steps to convert into finished solar cells.
Silicon ink combines the material advantages of silicon with the cost advantages of liquid based processing. It is the second most abundant element in the earth's crust, is non-toxic and has a rich history in both semiconductor and solar industries. However, processing this high purity material today is expensive due to substantial electrical and capital equipment requirements. Shifting from low throughput vacuum based processing to high throughput atmospheric inkjet manufacturing will retain the material advantages while reducing the cost to produce the product, which is a necessity for solar energy to compete with carbon emitting sources of electricity.
For more attend Photovoltaics Beyond Conventional Silicon USA 2009 Dec 2-3, San Jose, USA.