Solar modules made using printing technology might hasten the energy transition while also being more affordable… But that will only be feasible with the aid of a printed, conductive adhesive.
This very adhesive is being commercialised by researchers from PROTAVIC INTERNATIONAL and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in a joint venture. They recently took home the NEULAND innovation contest’s transfer prize. The use of the unique glue is anticipated to significantly simplify and lower the energy and material requirements for the production of photovoltaic modules.
“Thanks to this new adhesive technology, soldered connections will be a thing of the past,” says Professor Norbert Willenbacher, who developed the new method with his team at KIT’s Institute for Mechanical Process Engineering and Mechanics. “The circuitry for the solar modules will be printed onto them at low temperatures. Only in this way will it be possible to produce new cell technologies like perovskite tandem solar cells with higher efficiency.” He also sees considerable potential for other applications of the technology. “Think about the production of electronic devices like smartphones or notebooks. Our adhesive can also cut way down on raw material use there,” says Willenbacher.
The basic adhesive technology is made feasible by a complicated mixture of components. It is known as a capillary suspension when a polymer, conductive metallic powder comprising silver, and an immiscible liquid are mixed. It has a high conductivity with little silver consumption, can be manufactured using standard techniques, and is strong and long-lasting.
In addition to the special adhesive, in the NEULAND invention competition, a transfer prize was also given to a molecular printer and a Aerobuster air purification idea. With the latter, corona viruses can be eliminated from aerosol-containing air using a UV sterilisation technique. The Idea Prize was given to a FastCast spin-off that created a method for creating porous high-performance ceramics.