Description of field of research:

Terawatt-scale photovoltaic (PV) deployment is critical to reducing carbon emissions from fossil fules and limiting global temperature rise. The major barrier to achieving TW-scale production is the high demand for silver; in 2021 along with 191 GW of production, the PV industry used 12% of the global primary silver supply. Silver consumption is currently 15 mg/w, 26 mg/W and 34 mg/W for PERC, TOPCon and SHJ respectively. To sustainable reach TW-scale production, this must be reduced to less than 5 mg/W for any cell technologies. ITRPV predicts a reduction in silver consumption to roughly half by 2031, however this is still well above the 5 mg/W target required for TW-scale production. Silver is also the largest non-silicon cost of making a solar cell, accounting for 34-54% of the cell manufacturing cost ($/W) for industrial screen-printed PERC, TOPCon and SHJ solar cells. Reducing the silver consumption is therefore not only crucial for achieving TW-scale production without depleting global silver supply, but also a key path to ultra-low-cost PV.

Research Area

Silicon solar cell | Metallisation | Screen printing

This TOR project will be mainly supervised by Dr. Yuchao Zhang and Dr. Li Wang. Besides, other support can also be provided by the rest of the research team, including A. Prof. Brett Hallam, Dr. Atom Chang and other post-docs and research assistants. Experimental work will be conducted in SPREE labs and at UNSW Solar Industrial Research Facility (SIRF). All facilities and equipment required for the completion of project are readily accessible.

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

  • In-depth literature review to understand industrial-relevant metallisation technologies and their key limitations.
  • Designing and performing experimental work in industrial environments.
  • Characterisations of screen-printed contacts and silver-lean pastes developed with industrial partners, and communicate and present results to project partners.
  • Fabrication of silver-lean PERC solar cells with novel metallisation designs using industry standard equipment.
  • Opportunity for conference/journal paper publication
  • Opportunity for thesis project/PhD program