DuPont Microcircuit Materials (MCM) is accelerating the completion of a breakthrough technology innovation that is enabling the company to develop formulations for a new series of its leading DuPont Solamet brand photovoltaic (PV) metallization pastes that significantly reduce the silver content. This development will help offset some of the impact that rising silver prices have on the cost of producing solar cells and modules.
DuPont expects to commercialize the first generation of lower silver Solamet pastes later this year, and based on preliminary MCM lab evaluations, the company anticipates that the first generation products will have a reduced silver content of over 10 percent. DuPont expects that ongoing research efforts will enable the development of subsequent generations of the products with the silver content reduced by as much as 20 percent compared to today’s existing products.
The development is part of MCM’s roadmap of proposed technology options to enable the industry goal for conversion efficiency of crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar cells beyond 20 percent by 2012, and to help lower the cost of PV generated energy.
“Lower costs are critical to the future of the PV industry, and the escalating price of silver has become a key concern for our customers,” said Peter Brenner, global marketing manager, photovoltaics - DuPont Microcircuit Materials. “DuPont is working aggressively to reduce our customers’ reliance on silver as a basic conductive material, to reduce cell and module costs today and enable a more stable cost structure in the future. DuPont Solamet PV17A, launched at SNEC in February, already substantially reduces the amount of paste needed to produce a solar cell, and we’re continuing to put our science to work by lowering the silver content in the paste itself with this anticipated new product system. MCM has a history of success in enabling cost reductions through new material innovations without compromising performance. We are looking forward to introducing this system to the market.”
The lower-silver Solamet photovoltaic metallization paste system is comprised of new frontside silver and tabbing pastes, which DuPont anticipates for many applications will be near drop-in replacements for current products.
MCM began developing non-precious metal thick film compositions for low-cost applications in the early 1980s, for example with the screen-printable, low-temperature Mydas copper material system for use in automotive applications, and has continued to successfully draw upon internal and external collaborative efforts to leverage proprietary and patented technology using novel approaches to reduce costs for conductive materials in a range of industries including the automotive, passive component and plasma display panel markets.
MCM has introduced several new Solamet products this year and continues to focus on accelerated product development programs that help lower costs and raise efficiency, and capacity expansions to support the fast growing PV industry.