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Posted: Jun 12, 2012

Imec and Kaneka Achieve Breakthrough in Developing Next-Generation Heterojunction Solar Cells

(Nanowerk News) Kaneka and imec report a large area (6 inch semi-square) heterojunction silicon solar cell with a certified power conversion efficiency of 22.68% with an electroplated copper contact grid on top of the transparent conductive oxide layer. This breakthrough is achieved at Kaneka Osaka lab using Kaneka's copper electroplating technology which is based on imec's state-of-the-art copper electroplating knowhow.
To realize the top grid electrode in heterojunction silicon solar cells, silver screen printing is the preferred technology in the PV (photovoltaic) industry. However, a drawback of this technology is the difficulty to lower resistivity and to thin the metal line in silver screen printed contacts. As a result, efficiencies remain below optimal and cost remains relatively high. Replacing the screen-printed silver with electroplated copper overcomes the disadvantages of silver screen printing, enabling higher efficiencies and reduced fabrication costs.
Kaneka's Photovoltaics European Laboratory is located at the imec campus in Leuven (Belgium), with access to imec's state-of-the-art PV infrastructure. The collaboration between Kaneka and imec has led to the improvement of Kaneka's thin-film solar cells and the development of next-generation heterojunction cells. This development of large area Cu-plated heterojunction silicon solar cells is an important step towards a fab-compatible process on large area module integrated solar cells.
Kenji Yamamoto, General Manager of Kaneka's Photovoltaics European Laboratory says that "Kaneka is proud to have achieved this result which was made possible through the initial developments made by imec."
Jef Poortmans, Director PV technologies at imec: "We are excited that we could support Kaneka in developing this breakthrough results. They prove the capabilities of copper metallization for next-generation solar cells and strengthen our believe that in the future copper will play an important role in high efficiency and sustainable solar cell technology."
About imec
Imec performs world-leading research in nanoelectronics. Imec leverages its scientific knowledge with the innovative power of its global partnerships in ICT, healthcare and energy. Imec delivers industry-relevant technology solutions. In a unique high-tech environment, its international top talent is committed to providing the building blocks for a better life in a sustainable society. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and has offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Taiwan, US, China, India and Japan. Its staff of close to 2,000 people includes more than 600 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2011, imec's revenue (P&L) was about 300 million euro. Further information on imec can be found at www.imec.be.
Imec is a registered trademark for the activities of IMEC International (a legal entity set up under Belgian law as a "stichting van openbaar nut"), imec Belgium (IMEC vzw supported by the Flemish Government), imec the Netherlands (Stichting IMEC Nederland, part of Holst Centre which is supported by the Dutch Government), imec Taiwan (IMEC Taiwan Co.) and imec China (IMEC Microelectronics (Shangai) Co. Ltd.) and imec India (Imec India Private Limited).
About Kaneka
Kaneka Corporation was established in 1949 as a spin-off from the Kanegafuchi Spinning Co., Ltd. It is headquartered in Osaka, Japan and employs about 7,300 people worldwide (including consolidated subsidiaries). Kaneka's activities span a broad spectrum of markets ranging from photovoltaics, plastics, EPS resins, chemicals and foodstuffs to pharmaceuticals, medical devices, electrical and electronic materials and synthetic fibers. Kaneka has subsidiaries in Belgium, the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Australia and Vietnam. Further information on Kaneka can be found at http://www.kaneka.co.jp/kaneka-e/
Source: imec (press release)
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