Ferro Receives Solar Cell Research Grant

Ferro Electronic Materials, a supplier of materials for fabricating photovoltaic solar cells, has been awarded $1 million by the Ohio Department of Development to develop advanced durability sealing systems for solar cells.

In this project, Ferro says it will engineer a vitreous frit system to provide reliable air-tight and water-tight seals for second- and third-generation thin-film solar cells. Ferro will collaborate with the Edison Welding Institute, StrateNexus Technologies and Ohio State University in developing, testing and commercializing this new technology.

As with all solar cells, thin-film cells require a hermetic seal to operate reliably for their expected lifetimes of 20 or more years, the company explains. This requirement can be a problem, because most current thin-film solar cell modules are designed to be sealed with organic sealants that typically lose their hermeticity over time, especially if exposed to sunlight containing UV radiation.

Ferro proposes to replace the organic seal with technology similar to its glass frit sealing materials presently used in thick-film solar cells and that are field-proven to last well beyond the cells' expected lifetimes. The technical challenge is that thin-film cells are extremely temperature sensitive, and the current frit technology requires high firing temperatures to create the seal.

The company's goal is to create a glass frit material that can create the required seal at lower temperatures and that can be activated by laser-based and ultrasonic energy systems.

SOURCE: Ferro Electronic Materials Inc.

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