European research team achieves milestone in the laser structuring of organic solar cells
As part of the ALABO project, a research team has been working on the foundations for the next generation of organic solar cell encapsulation technology for the past three years. This month the research project has reached its completion, and it delivers impressive results.
In order to interconnect solar cells directly produced on barrier films, the requirements call for a very precise and detailed, but more importantly very "gentle" laser structuring. The biggest challenge within the complex laser process is to selectively ablate certain layers of the OPV layer stack in the nanometre range, without sacrificing the functionality of the – directly underlying and ultra-thin – barrier layer. The performance of the barrier has a direct effect on the life cycle of the solar cells.
The main objective of the ALABO project was to develop an industrial laser process that could achieve that. In addition to process development, the feasibility of machine solutions for production was considered as another important research topic, as well as the progress on accelerated barrier measurement methods.
A team of engineers and scientists from The Netherlands, France, Poland and Germany worked together in an interdisciplinary manner to achieve the successful realisation of this project. The results met the highest project expectations. "We were able to prove that the existing layer structure can be processed with industrial-grade laser systems. By changing certain parameters in processing, we were able to achieve damage-free structuring on the barriers. The findings from the ALABO project are a door opener for roll-to-roll direct encapsulation. Only in conjunction with these excellent partners was Heliatek able to develop such a complex laser process," says Merve Anderson, project manager of Heliatek GmbH.
If the direct encapsulation is later transferred to production, it can significantly increase the service life of solar cells, and at the same time reduce the volume of functional films itself. The higher efficiency in use of materials saves additional resources in the already energy-efficient production of solar cells, ultimately making the product cost effective, as well.
The basis for the success of this project was the concentrated research expertise of all participating organisations. Involved in the ALABO research project were the Holst Centre, the research institutes CNRS, CEA and Fraunhofer IWS Dresden, as well as the companies Sorter, 3D-Micromac AG and Heliatek GmbH.
Caption: The ALABO project aims at developing a new generation of organic solar cell encapsulation technology (photo: Heliatek)