New Hampshire, United States [Photovoltaics World magazine] The need to reduce the cost of extracting electricity from solar energy in order to achieve cost parity with nonrenewable energy sources is driving a search for increased module efficiency and for savings at all points of the photovoltaic (PV) supply chain. Inkjet materials deposition has multiple unique benefits that can be leveraged for efficiency gains, as well as environmentally responsible cost reduction at the basic material and cell processing nodes of the supply chain applied across multiple types of PV technology.
As a digital manufacturing process with properties of both printing and coating processes, inkjet has been applied to the patterned deposition of conductive fluids for contact formation on silicon cells, but inkjet also has the capability to manufacture entire thin film cells.
Inkjet deposition is a non-contact process, and so can be applied to silicon wafers of any thickness without stressing the wafer. In addition to screen printing pressure issues, the low speed of the inkjet drops impinging on the surface eliminates potential damage to previous deposited thin films that could be caused by high speed pressurized jets of other non-contact processes, such as aerosol jet or continuous inkjet.