GT Advanced Technologies Inc., (Nasdaq:GTAT), announced an innovative cell metallization and interconnect technology that is expected to provide substantial savings in both the manufacture and installation of solar modules.
Fig 1: PV module with Merlin™.
- Novel Approach to Metallization and Interconnect Expected to Lower Cost and Improve Efficiency of Solar Modules
Marketed under the name Merlin™, a key component of the new technology includes a flexible grid that replaces the three silver bus bars. The novel attributes of Merlin technology are expected to significantly reduce the amount of expensive silver paste while improving panel efficiency. The resulting modules are expected to be more reliable and durable and enable form factors that are lighter and easier to handle resulting in lower shipment and installations costs.
Fig 1: PV module with Merlin™ metallization and interconnect technology
"We are very excited about the progress we are making in developing what we believe will be a true game-changing technology to lower the cost of solar modules," said Tom Gutierrez, GT's president and CEO. "Our Merlin technology uses mature, proven manufacturing processes to produce the flexible grids and we are confident that we can scale grid production to meet the requirements of the solar industry. Our Merlin technology is expected to fundamentally change the way modules will be manufactured, shipped and installed in the future."
GT's patented Merlin technology easily integrates into existing cell and module manufacturing lines with simple changes to the screen used for patterning segmented fingers onto the solar cell. The segmented fingers are thinner and produce less shading than conventional fingers. The combination of the flexible grid and the segmented fingers results in lower resistive losses thereby increasing cell and module efficiency. Additionally, the on-cell and cell-to-cell interconnect features of the grid make the module substantially more resilient when subjected to temperature cycling and mechanical flexing. Merlin technology will enable customers to design highly reliable, lightweight, lower cost modules that are less expensive to install.
"Over the last several years, we have been reviewing PV systems at a number of solar farms to gain a better understanding of performance over time," said Govindasamy Tamizhmani, Ph.D., president of TUV Rheinland PTL, a leading provider of safety testing, performance testing and market certification for the photovoltaic marketplace. "A number of key issues have been identified, including solder bond failures, hot spots and ribbon-to-ribbon solder bond failures. I am quite excited regarding the Merlin technology developed by GT Advanced Technologies as it goes a long way to minimize or eliminate these issues."