GTAT reveals ‘game-changing’ solar cell technology

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Dubbed ‘Merlin,’ GT Advanced Technologies has launched a c-Si solar cell metallisation and interconnect technology that it claims will boost conversion efficiencies while lowering production costs via significantly reduced silver paste consumption.

The patented Merlin technology employs a different ‘flexible’ screen pattern to conventional screen printing designs for finger bars that forms ‘segmented’ fingers onto the solar cell.

Significantly less consumption of silver paste is claimed, while the segmented fingers are thinner and produce less shading than conventional finger designs. Merlin technology is claimed to be easily integrated into existing cell and module manufacturing lines with just a simple change to the screen used for patterning.

“We are very excited about the progress we are making in developing what we believe will be a true game-changing technology to lower the cost of solar modules,” said Tom Gutierrez, GT's president and CEO. “Our Merlin technology uses mature, proven manufacturing processes to produce the flexible grids and we are confident that we can scale grid production to meet the requirements of the solar industry. Our Merlin technology is expected to fundamentally change the way modules will be manufactured, shipped and installed in the future.”

The company did not reveal much regarding the interconnect technology attributes, which are expected to revealed at its ‘New Product and Technology Briefing’ event being held on Friday 14.

However, the company noted that the on-cell and cell-to-cell interconnect features of the flexible grid are claimed to make a PV module more resilient when subjected to temperature cycling and mechanical flexing. The Merlin technology is claimed to enable PV manufacturers to design highly reliable, lightweight, lower cost modules that are less expensive to install, according to the company. 

“Over the last several years, we have been reviewing PV systems at a number of solar farms to gain a better understanding of performance over time,” said Govindasamy Tamizhmani, Ph.D., president of TUV Rheinland PTL, a leading provider of safety testing, performance testing and market certification for the photovoltaic marketplace. “A number of key issues have been identified, including solder bond failures, hot spots and ribbon-to-ribbon solder bond failures. I am quite excited regarding the Merlin technology developed by GT Advanced Technologies as it goes a long way to minimize or eliminate these issues.”

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