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Producing thin film photovoltaic modules with high integrity interconnects and dual layer contacts

United States Patent

September 11, 2001
View the Complete Patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office
National Renewable Energy Laboratory - Visit the NREL Technology Transfer Website
High performance photovoltaic modules are produced with improved interconnects by a special process. Advantageously, the photovoltaic modules have a dual layer back (rear) contact and a front contact with at least one layer. The front contact and the inner layer of the back contact can comprise a transparent conductive oxide. The outer layer of the back contact can comprise a metal or metal oxide. The front contact can also have a dielectric layer. In one form, the dual layer back contact comprises a zinc oxide inner layer and an aluminum outer layer and the front contact comprises a tin oxide inner layer and a silicon dioxide dielectric outer layer. One or more amorphous silicon-containing thin film semiconductors can be deposited between the front and back contacts. The contacts can be positioned between a substrate and an optional superstrate. During production, the transparent conductive oxide layer of the front contact is scribed by a laser, then the amorphous silicon-containing semiconductors and inner layer of the dual layer back contact are simultaneously scribed and trenched (drilled) by the laser and the trench is subsequently filled with the same metal as the outer layer of the dual layer back contact to provide a superb mechanical and electrical interconnect between the front contact and the outer layer of the dual layer back contact. The outer layer of the dual layer back contact can then be scribed by the laser. For enhanced environmental protection, the photovoltaic modules can be encapsulated.
Jansen; Kai W. (Lawrenceville, NJ), Maley; Nagi (Exton, PA)
BP Corporation North America Inc. (Chicago, IL)
09/ 564,209
May 4, 2000
This invention was made with Government support under NREL Subcontract No. ZAN-4-13518-01 under Prime Contract No. DE-AC36-83CH10093 awarded by the Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in this invention.