Co-extrusion printing is a novel technology developed to produce highly structured thick films used in solar cells and batteries. Thick films produced by co-extrusion printing improve device performance through the more precise use of active materials and can be run at speeds compatible with high-volume manufacturing for solar and batteries. The printheads, inks and processes required for co-extrusion printing have been successfully developed and tested and have already been delivered to a leading solar cell manufacturer for use in production.
Traditionally, the efficiency of solar cells’ energy production has been limited by the electric wires that crisscross their surface. Although necessary for transmitting electric current through the cells, these wires also cast small shadows that reduce the amount of sunlight that can reach the cell for conversion into electricity. Co-extrusion printing addresses this limitation by producing exceptionally narrow wire gridlines that cast smaller shadows and allow more sunlight to reach the solar cell.
Specifically, the printhead on a co-extrusion printer is made up of many minute channels and nozzles that deposit a paste onto a substrate. The paste is made up of a combination of the materials needed to produce the gridlines for solar cells or electrodes for batteries. Co-extrusion printing is able to deposit single materials at a width that is smaller than the nozzle opening from which they were extruded. This enables the creation of solar cell or lithium-ion battery elements with a width of just 10–100 micrometers.
Business Roundtable members are creating technologies that actively contribute to a more efficient, secure and sustainable future for their customers and the public at large.
In Inventing the Future: How Technology Is Reshaping the Energy and Environmental Landscape Business Roundtable highlights just a small sample of technologies that are actively contributing to a more efficient, secure and sustainable future.
Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies working to promote a thriving economy and expanded opportunity for all Americans through sound public policy.