Alternative Energy (Downloadable PDF)
MicroFab is developing low-cost, high-volume, flexible solar cell manufacturing methods using company’s patented drop-on-demand ink-jet technology. This system will enable printing of solar cells of any size on any type of substrate including plastics, making it a lower cost alternative to conventional inorganic semiconductor-based solar cells. Current developments are focusing on existing bulk heterojunction organic PV materials.
Researchers at multiple institutions are developing ink-jet based fuel cell manufacturing processes. Specific activities include: controlling the deposition of expensive catalyst; printing polymer membrane materials; developing new materials using combinatorial approaches; and patterning adhesives/sealants. MicroFab's development activities include printing nanoparticle inks, functional polymers, adhesives, and 3-D interconnect structures.
Some of the advantages of ink-jet technology for fuel cell manufacturing are:
- Low waste of precious metals like Pt;
- Low cost deposition process;
- High precision;
- Direct write, data-driven process;
- Non-contact printing;
- Scalable to production;
- Allows for combinatorial approaches; and
- Allows for printing on conformal surfaces.