LORD Corporation, a leading supplier of thermal management materials, adhesives, coatings and encapsulants, has pioneered several product advancements that are an improvement over what is now available to the solar industry. These products are ideal for applications, such as screen-printed solar collection grids, photovoltaic cells, bus bar connections and thin films for flexible solar cells.
"Currently, there is a drive in the solar industry for higher efficiency, which includes increased conductivity of the conductive trace, and also for the ability to produce finer lines to allow more light to pass through and be collected on the cell," said Jim Greig, LORD Corporation's Sales and Marketing Manager for Electronic Materials in the Americas.
Improved conductivity and finer lines lead to better efficiency." Presently, the solar industry is typically averaging only about eight to nine percent efficiency on flexible solar cells. "Solar cell manufacturers are interested in increasing a cell’s efficiency, allowing the cell to convert more sunlight into electricity for a higher rate of conversion," Greig explained. "A higher conversion rate translates into more sales for the solar manufacturer." The ability to use smaller solar cells to capture sunlight is another advantage for solar cell manufacturers. If the same amount of the sun's energy can be collected with a smaller cell, there are cost benefits realized in using less materials and products for manufacturing solar cells.
Among LORD Corporation's products geared to the solar industry is a silver conductor, along with thermally conductive greases, encapsulants and potting compounds. "Many of these products are available in a wide range of chemistries, such as silicones, urethanes and epoxies," Greig said. "We are not limited to one chemistry and neither are our customers. We can provide a custom solution that better suits the needs of the customer, rather than forcing the customer to accept only one product."
LORD Corporation's PC10678HV Silver Conductor is designed for screen print applications onto flexible substrates. As screen printing and polycrystalline thin film technology become more popular, the solar industry is looking for products that will provide good conductivity with advanced manufacturing techniques.
"This silver conductor features three characteristics that make it a good choice for the solar industry," said John Francis, a Staff Scientist at LORD Corporation. "These properties are excellent adhesion, flexibility and superior ohmic contact to ITO (indium tin oxide) thin films." The silver conductor can be applied by high-speed automatic equipment and the cured film offers excellent electrical conductivity.
Another product that is proving useful to the solar industry is its TC-501 Thermally Conductive Grease. This solvent-free, silicone thermal interface material (TIM) is designed to replace greases used as TIMs between the heat spreader and the heat sink (commonly known as TIM2). It provides high thermal conductivity and low thermal resistance for applications where superior heat dissipation is required, such as in the solar industry. For more information visit www.lord.com.