To reach these aims and to demonstrate the feasibility of laser manufacturing processes in photovoltaics ten companies and institutes are cooperating in the € 6-million joint EU project called SOLASYS, which is being coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT. The project's initial results will be presented at the coming international trade fair LASER 2009 - World of Photonics, which will be held in Munich from June 15-18, 2009.
Photovoltaics refers to the process of generating electrical power directly from sunlight. It is very popular in some European countries mainly because of favorable feed-in tariffs. The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) forecasts that the total installed output will grow tenfold by the year 2017, even though solar power today is far more expensive than electricity generated by conventional means.
It is predicted that "grid parity", which refers to the moment at which solar electricity and household electricity cost the same, will be reached in Germany in the middle of the next decade. One third of the high power prices is due to the cost of materials and another third to the cost of manufacturing solar cells. The lower efficiency of conventional cells also plays a role. Depending on the type of cell, it can be between 6 and 16 percent. If this is increased, fewer cells are required for the same electrical output.
The "Next Generation Solar Cell and Module Laser Processing Systems" (SOLASYS) demonstration project aims at lowering manufacturing costs while increasing cell efficiency at the same time. It is being funded by the EU in the Seventh European Framework Programme in the energy segment. The joint project is worth € 6 million, € 3.5 million of which are covered by an EU subsidy. The project was launched on September 1, 2008, and is due to last 36 months.
A consortium of ten companies and institutes is participating in SOLASYS. They include manufacturers and developers of laser systems (Trumpf Laser GmbH and Laserline GmbH from Germany) and of machines (Manz Automation GmbH from Germany), research institutes (CNRS-LP3 from France and IMEC from Belgium), producers of solar cells and solar modules (BP Solar from Spain, Solland Solar from The Netherlands and Energy Solutions from Bulgaria) and a manufacturer of beam guiding systems (Scanlab AG from Germany). Because of its many years of experience in the field of laser-based materials processing, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology in Aachen is heading the project.
The laser has many advantages as a materials processing tool, such as non-contact machining, controlled energy input, high speed and precision. Yet, in the manufacturing of solar cells, lasers are only used sporadically, for instance to isolate the cell's negative and positive terminals. SOLASYS aims to improve current processes and integrate new methods in industrial production. Five specific processes are involved: high-speed drilling of microscopically small holes, ablation of thin layers without damage to the substrate, laser soldering for cell interconnection, laser isolation of the front and rear sides as well as laser-based selective doping.
Laser drilling is one example of how SOLASYS will lower costs for the manufacturing of silicon solar cells. The "metal wrap through" concept (MWT) involves transferring the metal contacts from the front of the cell to the back using drilled holes with the diameter of a human hair. This requires drilling 100 holes in less than a second. The aim of this method is to increase cell efficiency by reducing shading from contacts on the front side of the panel, and to simplify cell contacting, since both electrical terminals are on the rear side.
In the future, the connection of several cells to form a single module will also be performed using lasers. Laser soldering permits precise control of the soldering temperatures and hence specific process optimization. If the temperature at the solar cell deviates from the set value, the laser output can be adjusted accordingly, which enables a high-quality solder joint and low thermal stress.
Thanks to the methods elaborated in SOLASYS, a throughput of one cell per second will be attained even for modern, complex cell concepts. Production lines will be set up to demonstrate the industrial feasibility of this laser machining approach. The work of SOLASYS will benefit both existing as well as novel solar cell concepts. The aim, in both cases, is to increase throughput and yield, and improve the efficiency of solar cells.
Initial results will be presented to a broad audience of experts at the joint Fraunhofer stand in Hall C2 at the LASER 2009 trade fair in Munich, which will be held from June 15-18, 2009. For more background information and news updates, please visit the project website, http://www.solasys.eu .
Contact at the Fraunhofer ILT:
Our experts will gladly answer any questions regarding the joint SOLASYS project and laser applications in Micro Technology in general:Dr. Alexander Olowinsky
Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics
23.03.2017 | North Carolina State University
TU Graz researchers show that enzyme function inhibits battery ageing
21.03.2017 | Technische Universität Graz
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
28.03.2017 | Life Sciences
28.03.2017 | Information Technology
28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy