EMC Develops Process to Print Transparent Conductors on Flexible Glass


Energy Materials Corp. (EMC), a company that specializes in the development of high-speed roll-to-roll manufacturing of solar energy panels, has developed an enabling process to print transparent conductors as part of the scale-up of its inline manufacturing process.

EMC says roll-to-roll printing of metal conductors on Corning Willow Glass (flexible glass) at 60 meters per minute sets a world speed record for printing flexible electronics on glass. The process surpasses the company’s goal of achieving less than 5% loss in the transmission of light through the conductive layer. The manufacture of transparent conducting films, commonly found in flat panel screens, touchscreens on phones and tablets, as well as solar panels, is a complex and costly production step requiring low resistance electrodes that transmit a large fraction of incident light.

“A key piece of our high-speed, low-cost model is to print all the layers of our solar module in one continuous inline process,” says Dr. Tom Tombs, CTO of EMC. “Typical transparent conductors are manufactured using a high temperature, vacuum deposition process that is more than 10 times too slow to be integrated into our high-speed inline system. Our ability to print fine metal lines at 60 meters per minute is a critical element that allows us to eliminate the high-cost of transparent conductors, such as ITO, currently used in solar cells.”

EMC’s work with high-speed, transparent conductor layer printing is partially supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO). SETO funds innovative cooperative research and development projects that drive down the cost of solar electricity and improve the performance of solar technologies that enhance grid reliability and security. 

Photo: Perovskite crystal structure

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