Fraunhofer ISE spins off sustainable solar cell company

September 30, 2020 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Fraunhofer ISE spins off sustainable solar cell company
Resource-saving production technology is an important factor in the manufacture of solar cells, which is playing an increasingly important role alongside increased efficiency. HighLine Technology GmbH is the latest spin-off from the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE. Based in Freiburg (Germany), the start-up company aims to commercialise a new process developed at the institute, in which the metal contacts on the front of the solar cell are applied contactlessly in a dispensing process.

The new production process saves resources, increases the electricity yield and also has cost reduction potential. The process can also be applied to production processes beyond photovoltaics. The expertise of the HighLine Technology start-up is the result of a good ten years of research work on dispensing processes for the metallisation of silicon solar cells at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE . During this period, a multi-nozzle dispensing print head was developed and at the same time a great deal of know-how on printing pastes and processes was gained.

The dispenser technology can be easily integrated into conventional production lines for silicon solar cells, where it can replace the silk-screen printing normally used for applying the front metal contacts. The material consumption of cost-intensive silver is reduced by approx. 20%, the contacts become thinner and more semiconductor surface is available to sunlight, which results in an increase in the current yield and thus in the efficiency by approx. 1% relative to the original. The contactless process promises a lower reject rate when using thinner silicon wafers. In addition, the inline-compatible printing process will in future enable a significant increase in throughput compared to the screen-printing process commonly used in the industry. Other production steps in solar cell manufacture can also be optimised with the new process.

"Our main focus is currently on reducing material consumption in the photovoltaic industry," says Dr. Maximilian Pospischil, Managing Director and one of the founders of HighLine Technology, adding: "We want to bring the highly efficient parallel dispensing technology developed at Fraunhofer ISE to the market. To this end, we will continue to work closely with Fraunhofer ISE PV-TEC. However, our dispensing technology is also interesting for other industrial production processes beyond the PV industry. We support companies from plant engineering to process integration and application".

In the dispensing technology, the materials are pressed onto the surface of the solar cells in

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