IKTS to Use Aerosol Jet technology to Develop New Non-Contact Printing Processes to Increase Solar Cell Efficiencies

Albuquerque, New Mexico, 8 September 2009: Optomec announced today that Fraunhofer IKTS (Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems) has selected the Aerosol Jet Solar Lab system to be part of their Energy Systems Department. The Aerosol Jet system, which will be installed at the IKTS facility in Dresden, Germany, will be primarily used to develop front side collector line printing solutions to increase solar cell efficiencies. IKTS conducts development work within the framework of R&D projects with its industrial customers spanning the entire value chain, extending through to prototype production. Professor and Fraunhofer IKTS Director, Dr. Alexander Michaelis, explains “Photovoltaics is one of the hottest R&D fields in our institute. We specialize in materials and tool development for PV back end-of-line processes and collaborate with leading PV companies. For example, with Roth & Rau AG, a world leading PV equipment supplier, we operate a real 10 MW R&D production line. We are convinced that Aerosol Jet printing is one of the most promising technologies for future PV wafer processing and we are happy to work with Optomec on this issue.” Optomec will showcase the Aerosol Jet system at the 24th European Photovoltaic and Solar Energy Conference in Hamburg, Germany on September 21-24, Optomec will be located in stand # B5-12.

Fraunhofer IKTS covers the complete field of advanced ceramics, from basic research to advanced manufacturing applications. IKTS services include the development and application of modern advanced ceramic materials, the development of industrial powder metallurgical technologies, and the manufacturing of prototypical components. Structural ceramics, functional ceramics and cermets set up the priorities with emphasis on innovative complex systems which are applied in many industry sectors. The institute has a permanent staff of about 218 and currently collaborates with more than 250 national and international partners.

The Aerosol Jet system is ideally suited to be part of the IKTS facility because it has been proven to increase the efficiencies of silicon solar cells by producing narrower, higher integrity collector lines with reduced shadowing effects. The Aerosol Jet technology enables fine feature, non-contact printing of advanced photovoltaic materials onto non-planar surfaces without the need for masks or resists. Because of the non-contact nature of Aerosol Jet technology, the system can print on thinner silicon wafers, providing a higher manufacturing yield compared to wafer breakage caused by contact screen printing. In addition to functional gains, Aerosol Jet is also projected to dramatically reduce the overall Cost of Ownership versus screen printing. For volume production applications, Optomec has developed a high throughput 40-nozzle Aerosol Jet deposition head that prints a solar cell every 2.5 to 3 seconds. Additionally, the non-contact nature of the Aerosol Jet system enables high yield printing on thinner photovoltaic wafers. For more information on Aerosol Jet printing for solar applications, click here.

Dave Ramahi, Optomec President/CEO states that “Fraunhofer IKTS is an established materials research leader that is uniquely qualified to deliver front-side metallization printing solutions. Optomec is extremely pleased that Fraunhofer IKTS selected the Aerosol Jet deposition system to develop new non-contact processes for next generation high efficiency solar cells.”

Optomec is the world-leading provider of additive manufacturing systems for high-performance applications in the Photovoltaic, Electronics, Biomedical, and Aerospace & Defense markets. These systems utilize Optomec’s proprietary Aerosol Jet and LENS powder-metal fabrication technology. The company has a global customer base of industry-leading manufacturers.