Skip to Content
Find More Like This
Return to Search

Novel Printed Interconnects for Increased Efficiency of Monolithic Thin Film Photovoltaic Modules

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Contact NREL About This Technology

Technology Marketing Summary

Thin film solar cells are composed of a thin semiconductor layer deposited on top of a substrate. In order to collect current produced by the photovoltaic material, the semiconductor layer must be divided into discrete sub-cells that are connected in series by a conductive interconnect. These interconnects are currently fabricated in at least three steps of cutting scribes into the semiconducting material and depositing interconnect layers. In order to prevent the destruction of deposited materials precision instruments must be used which decrease the speed of manufacturing. Less precise instruments can be used to increase throughput by widening the scribe lines, but this results in less surface area available for PV current generation per cell.


Researchers at NREL have invented a novel technique to reliably create sub-cell interconnects in just one or two scribes. The process physically divides the film into individual sub-cells and creates the electrical connections with a single hybrid tool, which eliminates the need to re-align the scribe tool after each layer deposition further reducing the total time needed to fabricate the interconnects. The technique can be applied to any thin film PV materials and the resulting effect of the increased surface area is a gain in PV module efficiency of at least 1% absolute compared to current manufacturing methods.

  • Increased module efficiency
  • Higher manufacturing throughput
  • Decreased manufacturing costs
  • Increased PV module reliability
  • Easily implemented into large-scale manufacturing
Applications and Industries
  • Thin film photovoltaics
  • Utility-scale solar
  • Wearable and mobile PV
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 9,647,158
Photovoltaic sub-cell interconnects
Photovoltaic sub-cell interconnect systems and methods are provided. In one embodiment, a photovoltaic device comprises a thin film stack of layers deposited upon a substrate, wherein the thin film stack layers are subdivided into a plurality of sub-cells interconnected in series by a plurality of electrical interconnection structures; and wherein the plurality of electrical interconnection structures each comprise no more than two scribes that penetrate into the thin film stack layers.
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
NREL ROI 12-45PrototypeAvailable05/30/201705/30/2017

Contact NREL About This Technology

To: Bill Hadley<>