SBIR Phase I: Nanonickel based printable inks for front side metallization of silicon solar cells

Period of Performance: 01/01/2011 - 12/31/2011

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

UT Dots, Inc.
115 Paddock Dr.
Savoy, IL 61874
Principal Investigator

Abstract

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project aims to develop nickel-based nanoinks for the front-side metallization of silicon solar cells. Current front-side metallization processes rely on screen printing contact methods that use silver paste, which contains glass frits that require high curing temperatures from 800 to 900 degree Celsius. The high temperatures introduce stress on the silicon wafer and the contact method risks cracking the wafer. In this project, nanonickel inks will be synthesized and deposited on solar panels by a non-contact Aerosol-Jet method at low temperatures from 300 to 400 degree Celsius. The nanonickel inks will be used as a seed layer for front-side metallization of solar panels. An additional layer of copper nanoinks will be deposited on top of the nickel layer creating thicker conductive lines. The broader/commercial impact of this project will be the potential to offer a cost-effective replacement to silver paste for the front-side metallization of crystalline-silicon solar cells using a non-contact method. It is expected to provide manufacturing processes and materials that enhance quality of front-side metallization while reducing cost.