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Ferro Corp.: Metallization Materials for PV Silicon Solar Cells

September 7, 2007
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Ferro Corp.’s Electronic Material Systems business, a supplier of materials for the fabrication of photovoltaic (PV) silicon solar cells, has broadened its product line with eight new materials that improve electrical output, efficiency and manufacturability, enabling solar energy to become a more cost-competitive energy generation alternative.

The four products in the front silver contacts family yield greater power output, fire through silicon nitride anti-reflective coatings, and provide a broad processing window. They are compatible with all Ferro rear silver pastes, as well as lead-free and low-bow aluminum pastes. In addition, two of the products offer the advantages of Ferro’s patented Hot Melt ink technology, a specially designed silver conductor system that eliminates the drying process of conventional pastes and results in higher throughput rates, increased productivity, improved yields, and the reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Solid at room temperature, Hot Melt pastes are resistively heated above their melting points to screen print similarly to conventional thick film pastes. Unlike conventional pastes, they instantly re-solidify when transferred to the solar cell surface and are ready for the next printing sequence. This property also enables the printing of finer grid lines, contributing to higher cell efficiency than can be achieved with conventional screen printing materials.

Ferro’s new lead- and cadmium-free aluminum/boron conductor is designed for the back surface of thin silicon wafers. It exhibits less than 1 mm camber on 150 x 150 mm wafers at 160 microns thickness, enabling solar cell manufacturers to reduce silicon usage and costs. It also yields a smooth surface and high electrical efficiency. A new lead-free aluminum conductor for the back surface of silicon wafers is specially formulated to facilitate firing through silicon nitride anti-reflective coatings. It exhibits less than 1 mm camber on 150 x 150 mm wafers at 200 microns thickness, and provides a smooth surface and high electrical efficiency.

Two high-adhesion rear silver products are cadmium-free silver conductor pastes designed to provide high adhesion with lead-free and leaded tabbing ribbon, as well as improved electrical performance. One is formulated as a conventional screen printing ink, and the other offers the additional manufacturing benefits of Ferro’s Hot Melt ink technology. Both are compatible with all Ferro leaded and lead-free aluminum inks, and have excellent solderability when used with leaded and lead-free solders.

All eight new products are RoHS-compliant. Visit www.ferro.com for additional information.

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