Metallization is the process of depositing metal contacts on the surface of the solar cell to collect and transport the electrical current generated by the solar cell. Plating is an electrochemical process which involves using an electrical current to reduce dissolved metal ions so that they form a layer of metal. The plated metal contacts are typically in crystalline structure with excellent conductivity. Plating, particularly electroplating, has been a common process in the semiconductor industry for metallization. It has been used in commercial scale in the PV industry in Buries Contact Solar Cells and Laser Doped and Selective Emitter Solar Cells.

The adaption and use of plating technologies in the solar industry are growing. It has been driven by the need for more cost-effective alternatives to traditional screen-printed solver contacts. The PV industry required over 14% of global silver supply in 2022. Considering how the world needs to expand the scale by more than a factor of 10 within the coming decade, the material shortage may become a significant issue towards the sustainability of the industry.

Materials with lower cost could be an ideal option to lower the silver consumption either by replacing silver fully or partially. Their conductivity and impact on cell performance need to be investigated.

This project will aim to explore the possibility of other alternative materials with low cost as metal electrode via plating. The contact and series resistance of metal lines will be characterised. The impact on cell performance will be investigated.


Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering

Research Area

Solar cell metallization

The student will work closely with post-docs experienced in solar cell metallization including plating, screen-printing, and all the relevant characterisation skills and theoretical knowledge. The student will perform experiments in SPREE research labs. This ToR project will be mainly supervised and supported by Dr Sisi Wang, Dr Yuchao Zhang and Dr Li Wang. Besides, other technical support can also be provided by the rest of the research team, including A. Prof. Brett Hallam.

Throughout the project duration, students are expected to carry out/obtain:

  • In-depth literature review to understand the metallization of solar cells
  • Understanding of different and most recent metallization technologies
  • Investigation of plating metal contacts using alternative materials and its impact on conductivity and cell performance
  • Opportunity for conference/journal paper publication
  • Opportunity for thesis project/PhD program
  • Y. Zhang et al. En. Environ. Sci. 2021
  • Tepner S, Lorenz A. Printing technologies for silicon solar cell metallization: A comprehensive review. Prog Photovolt Res Appl. 2023; 31(6): 557-590. doi:10.1002/pip.3674
  • Lennon, A., Yao, Y. and Wenham, S. (2013), Evolution of metal plating for silicon solar cell metallisation. Prog. Photovolt: Res. Appl., 21: 1454-1468.