Belgian nanoelectronics research centre imec and semiconductor plating equipment supplier Meco will present high-efficiency i-PERC-type silicon solar cells at EU PVSEC this week.
The pair will be demonstrating a large area (156mm x 156mm) cell with Nickel/Copper plating on the front contacts that they claim has achieved an average efficiency of 20.5% and a maximum efficiency of 20.7%.
“Not only do these results show a considerable performance improvement compared to state-of-the-art screen-printed PERC cells, but our cost-of-ownership analysis also indicates a clear advantage on the financial level,” said Jozef Szlufcik, department director silicon photovoltaics at imec.
“Our results show that Ni/Cu plating is one of the few new technologies that can simultaneously improve the efficiency of PERC solar cells, while reducing processing cost,” he said.
The cells were processed on imec’s solar cell pilot line using Meco’s inline plating tool to deposit the Ni/Cu front contacts. The metallization process of the Ni/Cu stack included Ultraviolet (UV) laser ablation, sequential in-line plating of the metal layers and contact annealing.
The resulting i-PERC solar cell achieved an average efficiency of 20.5% on more than 100 cells with a very low standard deviation of only 0.1% and an average fill factor of 80%, validating the high quality of the front contacts.
“We now have the advantage of using Meco’s industrial plating techniques and tools that were not available to earlier Ni/Cu adopters,” said Richard Russell, metalization module leader at imec. “This gives us the opportunity to develop a more robust and cheaper process than was previously possible.”