Funding Opportunity: Technology to Market 2
SunShot Subprogram: Technology to Market
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
SunShot Award Amount: $4,993,823
Awardee Cost Share: $6,976,508

This project is developing an advanced manufacturing toolset and process technology for low-cost copper metallization of high-efficiency heterojunction solar cells and glass-glass bifacial modules. While copper electrodes are well-known to be the best option for high-performance solar cells, very few are made with copper due to the complex and costly process needed to pattern it. This project adapts technologies from the ultra-cost-sensitive printed circuit board industry and modifies them for processing solar cells with higher throughput.


The project team will adapt printed circuit board techniques so they can be translated to the significantly more fragile nature of PV wafers and accommodate the much higher resolution patterning requirements. These tools and techniques will be developed into a high-volume manufacturing toolset capable of producing 2,500 wafers per hour.


By leveraging existing techniques and adapting them to PV cell manufacturing, this project will dramatically reduce manufacturing costs and increase cell performance, making copper plating practical for mass production of commercial solar cells and enabling broad-scale adoption of copper at a cost significantly below that of silver paste. This project has the potential to increase efficiency of heterojunction cells by 10% and reduce module production costs to $0.42 per watt, resulting in a levelized cost of energy of less than $0.04 per kilowatt hour without the Investment Tax Credit, exceeding SunShot goals.