Applied Nanotech’s nanoparticle ink technology formulations of aluminum, copper, nickel and silver will be delivered using aerosolized jet, inkjet and spray coating methods and other non-contact printing techniques that will enable ultra-thin silicon wafers to be used for photovoltaic applications.
Currently, solar cell wafers must be thick enough to survive the direct contact metallization processes, which use screen printing equipment that comes in direct contact with the wafer and can exert enough force to cause ultra-thin wafers to break. Silicon is the largest cost in conventional solar cell production and the primary material in solar cells, making up 50-60 percent of overall cost. Using methods such as inkjet, aerosol jet and spray coating - all non-contact methods - will allow solar companies to save substantial material costs on the amount of silicon used by enabling the use of thin wafers.
“Through its proprietary nanoparticle inks and non-contact printing methods, Applied Nanotech is leading the transition to use thin solar wafers in high throughput production environments,” commented Dr. Yaniv, CEO of Applied Nanotech, Inc. “The solar industry is set to be transformed by nanotechnology as new inking techniques work to lower overall solar cell costs and preserve solar as one of the leading renewable energy options in the market for decades to come.”
In September 2010, Applied Nanotech was awarded $1.6 million in federal funding as part of The Recovery Act funds administered through the Department of Energy to develop its solar inks pilot manufacturing line. Applied Nanotech added 4,000 square feet to its 16,000 square foot existing state-of-the-art facility, located in Austin, TX.
The new addition enables the company to develop and produce prototypes using its metallic inks printed onto thin silicon solar cells, and contributes to local clean energy job creation.
“The fact that we are now able to produce sample inks in substantial quantities will accelerate commercialization [by other manufacturers] and licensing of our nanoparticle inks and non-contact printable approach,” stated Mr. Baker, CEO of Applied Nanotech Holdings Inc.