Project Name: Direct Metallization with Reactive Inks – Assessment of Reliability and Process Sensitivities
Funding Opportunity: PVRD2
SETO Subprogram: Photovoltaics
Location: Tempe, AZ
SETO Award Amount: $1,400,000
Awardee Cost Share: $155,601
Principal Investigator: Owen Hildreth

This project is investigating the material and growth properties of reactive metal inks in order to explore their potential use in the metallization of silicon solar cells. The research team seeks to radically change the cost structure of the cell by dramatically reducing silver consumption. This technique is of particular importance to temperature sensitive devices, such as heterojunction architectures, where the low processing temperatures of reactive inks offer a significant advantage over current metallization methods that are expensive.


The research team is replacing screen-printed silver pastes with contact-dispensed reactive inks that produce lower resistivity metallizations at lower temperatures and with thinner films. They aim to metalize both heterojunction and conventional silicon photovoltaic cells using reactive inks while meeting performance characteristics that are within 1 percent or better of reference photovoltaic cells that were metallized using either low-temperature screen-printed silver pastes or high-temperature silver pastes at an equivalent rate.


This project will reduce silver consumption in photovoltaic cells by nearly 90 percent, greatly reducing costs. By developing a better understanding of reactive metal inks, this project moves the technology toward commercial use. Specifically, this work will combine fundamental understanding of the physics and chemistries involved in contact printing of reactive inks with detailed performance and reliability studies to quantify how tightly processing parameters need to be controlled in order reliability to metallize high-efficiency solar cells at commercial throughputs of 36,000 cells per hour.