Solar photovoltaic cells use metal contacts made primarily of screen-printed silver, and in some cell designs the metallisation also requires a transparent conducting film of indium tin oxide. The use of these materials is currently limiting further reductions in cell manufacturing cost, with the metals used contributing as much as one quarter of the cost of the cell. The ongoing trend to reduce the price of solar panels requires the shift towards a metallisation schemes that minimise the use of such expensive or nonabundant materials. This project aims to explore novel contact and metallisation technologies that can address this critical hurdle for the future of solar electricity generation, using solvo-dynamic printed nanowire high aspect ratio contact electrodes. Silver-free metal to semiconductor contacts will be explored in collaboration with our international partners, and new technologies will be proposed to achieve low-cost manufacturing of efficient metallisation for single and multijunction solar cells. Analytical and electrical characterisation techniques will be used to assess the performance of the metallisation, including advanced nano scale mass-spectroscopy and electrical current transport. The understanding and development from this project will result in improved manufacturing of commercial solar panels, which in turn will help mitigate the devastating consequences of climate change.
The description above outlines a possible new research project being offered to prospective new postgraduate students.