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Cell Processing

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  1. Cell metallization by screen printing: Cost, limits and alternatives

    Cell metallization by screen printing: Cost, limits and alternatives

    Although considerable progress has been made in reducing the amount of Ag required per wafer in the classic screen-printing metallization of Si solar cells, the total cost of ownership of the metallization process today accounts for more than 50% of the total cell-process-related cost. There has been pressure on cell and module manufacturers to further reduce this cost, by either improving the metallization process or applying alternative contacting technologies. In this paper, the classic screen printing of standard Si-based solar cells, which has been the main metallization technique for many years, is described in detail. The required paste volume for providing the contacts in a state-of-the-art cell production process is calculated on the basis of the contact dimensions (fingers and busbars on the front, Al layer and Al/Ag pads on the back). Taking into account today’s paste prices, equipment investment, screen cost, energy, maintenance, yield, material utilization and necessary labour, the total cost of ownership of the cell metallization is also determined. The main cost drivers are discussed in detail. The cost reduction is estimated when improved printing processes – such as double, dual or stencil printing – are employed. Other promising alternative front-contact metallization technologies are listed and their potential is briefly discussed. To evaluate the competitiveness of these technologies, the limit of today’s screen-printing method and its further cost reduction potential are estimated on the basis of the physical properties of cells and printing pastes. Learn More
  2. Challenges for single-side chemical processing

    Challenges for single-side chemical processing

    Wet chemical process equipment is widely used in industrial solar cell production, and inline etching systems in particular have attracted more and more attention since their introduction 10 years ago. The horizontal wafer transport within these systems has made it possible to think about single-side wafer treatments even for wet chemical process applications. Since its market introduction in 2004, the chemical edge isolation process based on the single-side removal of the parasitic emitter at the rear side of the solar cells has gained an increasing share of the market in comparison to competing technologies that use laser techniques. Learn More
  3. Silicon nitride thin films in μc silicon solar cell production

    Silicon nitride thin films in μc silicon solar cell production

    The deposition of thin films is a key technology for a large variety of technical and scientific applications. Among them is the deposition of silicon nitride (SiNx) to passivate the surface of silicon solar cells. The SiN film serves several purposes. It is a broadband anti-reflection layer, it serves to saturate dangling bonds and/or other surface states of the silicon, and last but not least, it is a protection layer to prevent alkali ions and other impurities from diffusing into the silicon causing perturbations of the performance of the solar cell. Learn More
  4. Etching, texturing and surface decoupling for the next generation of Si solar cells

    Etching, texturing and surface decoupling for the next generation of Si solar cells

    Si etch processes are vital steps in Si solar cell manufacturing. They are used for saw damage removal, surface texturing and parasitic junction removal. The next generation of Si solar cells, featuring thinner wafers and passivated rear surface, will pose more stringent demands on those steps. Learn More
  5. Wafer, cell and module quality requirements

    Wafer, cell and module quality requirements

    Standardized requirements for the quality of PV modules, solar cells and wafers are given in the according IEC norms (e.g., IEC 61215, 61646, and IEC 61730 for modules). However, the manufacturers of cells purchasing wafers and the module manufacturers purchasing cells want information beyond the final check of the product and to monitor each step during the production process to identify harsh handling and/or machine faults at the earliest stage possible. Learn More
  6. Existing and emerging laser applications within PV Manufacturing

    Existing and emerging laser applications within PV Manufacturing

    Increasing the efficiency and yield of production line processes forms an integral part of PV manufacturers’ technology roadmaps. For their next generation production lines, non-contact processing equipment is considered essential. This prioritizes laser-based processing, already established at several steps in c-Si and Thin-Film cell manufacturing. Learn More
  7. Carbon footprint of PECVD chamber cleaning

    Carbon footprint of PECVD chamber cleaning

    The use of perfluorinated gases such as NF3, CF4 or SF6 for PECVD (plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition) chamber cleaning has a much higher impact on global warming than does the use of onsite-generated F2. This holds true even when supposing that in the future much more effort is paid for the correct abatement and a leak-free supply and take-back chain. Learn More
  8. In-line plasma-chemical etching of  crystalline silicon wafers at atmospheric  pressure using FT-IR spectroscopic  process control

    In-line plasma-chemical etching of crystalline silicon wafers at atmospheric pressure using FT-IR spectroscopic process control

    The etching technology currently used in the solar industry is mostly based on wet chemical processing. Plasmaenhanced dry chemical etching at atmospheric pressure is an alternative to the existing technology, especially when combined with similar process technologies, for example plasma-enhanced deposition techniques at atmospheric pressure, to provide a continuous in-line processing of crystalline silicon solar cells. Learn More
  9. Surface modification for efficiency improvement of inline solar cell manufacture

    Surface modification for efficiency improvement of inline solar cell manufacture

    Inline processing, one of the fastest-growing production processes for crystalline silicon solar cells, uses continuously operated belt furnaces to achieve higher overall throughput compared with traditional batch processing. A second, major advantage of inline processing is improved manufacturing yields through reduced breakage of today’s thinner, increasingly delicate wafers. Learn More
  10. Cell efficiency increase of 0.4% through light-induced plating

    Cell efficiency increase of 0.4% through light-induced plating

    A vast majority of silicon solar cells are manufactured using silver paste that is screen printed onto the front side of the wafer and fired to form the front-side contact. Though this method is well established within the industry, it continues to present several areas for potential efficiency improvements. Learn More

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