Copper Ink Could Cut The Cost Of Solar Panels

Intrinsiq Materials Inc. has been awarded USD $887,000 to further develop a copper ink for use in solar cells.
Most crystalline silicon solar cells use silver paste; which acts as a collection and transportation channel for energy collected by a solar cell.  According to the Silver Institute, over 2,800 tonnes of silver are projected for use by the solar panel industry in 2015.
Copper ink costs around 60% less than silver paste and while it has been used in circuit boards and other applications for a few years; it requires baking at high temperatures so that it will conduct electricity. This is an energy intensive process that can also damage the cell or the substrate.
Intrinsiq Materials has developed a copper ink incorporating nano and micro copper particles that can be applied at low temperature, will maintain high conductivity and will not oxidise.
As the process requires only the printing equipment and curing, power usage in production of the ink can drop by 50% or more. Chemical and material usage and waste is reduced by 70%.
The funding provided by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will allow Rochester based Intrinsiq Materials to boost R&D of the ink, with view to commercialisation soon. The company expects to increase staffing levels from eight employees to up to 25 as a result of project.
“With the support of NYSERDA and all of the capabilities of the Rochester area, the potential to leverage the technology into critical and fast-growing applications such as solar cells has become extremely realizable,” said Robert Cournoyer, President and CEO, Intrinsiq Materials.
Under the funding agreement, Intrinsiq will repay NYSERDA if the product is successful and has also matched the funding amount, with assistance from private investors.
NYSERDA’s Advanced Clean Power Technologies program promotes companies researching  new forms of clean-energy technologies or projects that can support these technologies.