Fraunhofer ISE spins out solar cell company

September 30, 2020 //By Nick Flaherty
Fraunhofer ISE spins out solar cell company
HighLine Technology in Freiburg, aims to commercialize a new process that uses a contactless dispensing process is used to apply front metal contacts onto solar cells.

Fraunhofer ISE in Germany has spun off its research on solar cells into a startup company

The contactless dispensing process from HighLine Technology not only saves resources but also increases the electricity yield and the potential for cost reductions. Applications also include production processes outside the field of photovoltaics.HighLine Technology builds on ten years of research on dispensing processes for silicon solar cell metallization at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE). The team developed a multi-nozzle dispensing print head along with expertise on printing pastes and processes.

The technology can easily be integrated into conventional production lines for silicon solar cells, replacing the screen printing process normally used for the front-side metal contacts. In addition, the material consumption of the costly silver is reduced by around 20 percent.

The front-side contacts produced by the process are thinner, exposing a larger semiconductor surface to the sunlight. This increases the electricity output and thus the efficiency by approximately 1% relative. The contactless process promises a lower reject rate when using thinner silicon wafers, and the inline printing process increases the throughput significantly as compared to the conventional screen printing process.

"Our main focus is currently on reducing material consumption in the photovoltaic industry," said Dr. Maximilian Pospischil, Managing Director and one of the founders of HighLine Technology. "Our aim is to bring the highly efficient parallel dispensing technology which was developed at Fraunhofer ISE to the market. Along the way, we are continuing to work closely with Fraunhofer ISE’s Photovoltaic Technology Evaluation Center PV-TEC. Besides the photovoltaic industry, our dispensing technology is attractive for other industrial production processes. Our service offer includes accompanying companies from equipment manufacturing, through the process integration up to the application".

In the dispensing technology, the materials are pressed through the many miniscule nozzles of highly parallel print heads onto the front solar cell surface via a contactless printing process. As opposed to a toothpaste tube, however,

Picture: 
Cross-section of a silver finger lines (17µm width) produced by dispensing technology on a silicon solar cell.

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