Photovoltaic industry

Sustainable and economic plating solutions

Revolutionizing the solar industry through plated metallization

Due to their low carbon generation, photovoltaic systems are already an integral part of the transition to clean energy, and they will continue to be more so in the future. In addition to being a foundational component in the move towards a carbon-neutral energy system, they also stand out for their cost-effectiveness, modular design, durability, easy assembly, and low lifecycle emissions. As the shift away from fossil fuels continues, the photovoltaic market will experience massive, rapid growth. This will lead to critical shortages in the supply of silver – a key component in the silver screen-printing technology currently widely in use.

With our extensive experience in electroplating, we are committed to developing sustainable and highly efficient plating solutions for c-Si solar cell grid metallization and have developed production proven processes that meet industry requirements.

 

As a leading provider of sustainable surface finishing solutions, we are committed to developing technologies that make a difference

Our alternative processes to silver screen printing pave the way to sustainable solar energy production

Atotech’s metallization technology enables increased cell efficiency

Plated metallization

The sustainable alternative to silver screen-printing

In solar cell technology, the application of plated Ni/Cu/Ag contacts is a reliable alternative to screen-printed metallization. The key advantages of plated metallization are increased cell efficiency at a lower material cost and improved sustainability. Fully-printed silver fingers are replaced by a combination stacked layer of thin nickel seed, a highly-conductive copper finger, and an ultra-thin tin or silver surface finish.  Conventional interconnection technologies can still be used for plated solar cells. The plated Ni/Cu/Ag or Ni/Cu/Sn contacts exhibit an increase in performance compared to conventional screen-printed contacts.

Industry challenges

Future limitations on silver supply

Given expected production boosts, the continued use of silver-based contacts may result in critical constraints on the silver supplies needed for this fast-growing market. Improvements in silver screen-printing technologies alone will not overcome these limitations. The industry is therefore turning its attention to alternative metallization processes.

Our solution

Revolutionary processes for more efficient and sustainable solar energy production

An excellent, sustainable alternative to traditional silver screen printing is plated metallization. Apart from reducing the consumption of critical resources, plated contacts offer further benefits. Copper contacts are ductile and minimally stressed, which helps improve overall cell efficiency and thus increase yield. This versatile plating processes can be adapted to different cell types and designs. Building on its long and successful history in mass production, Atotech’s plating processes are proven to be a reliable alternative to the standard screen-printing method.

Revolutionary metallization processes for the plating of fingers and busbars

Specialist article

Plated TOPCon solar cells and modules with reliable fracture stress and soldered module interconnection

Plating Ni/Cu/Ag contacts for TOPCon solar cells and modules is a reliable alternative to screen-printed metallization. Due to the substitution of fully silver-printed fingers plated metallization leads to a reduction of critical material consumption as one key advantage. The following article shows a one-to-one comparison of screenprinted and plated TOPCon solar cells connected by conventional soldering technology. The right choice of plating electrolyte allows for low-stress and ductile metal fingers, thereby achieving comparable reliability in cell breakage experiments compared to state-of-the-art screen-printing metallization. 

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Solar cells 
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