Welcome to project HiLoSilver website

This Innovate UK (TSB) funded project aims to investigate the prospect of commercialising silver alloys as 'cost-effective and low silver' alternatives to front-side pure silver paste in solar cells thereby achieving a significant reduction in cost per Watt.

Silver is currently used for front contact grid formation due to its low resistivity, excellent oxidation resistance and good solderability. Low resistance electrical contacts between the solar cell emitter and the bulk silver are realised in a single process, using glass frits with unique flow properties that enable the formation of silver crystallites on the silicon interface. With the silver price having gone up by ~500% in the past 10 years and expected to increase further due to industrial and investment demand , there is an urgent need to develop pastes that contain less silver to drive down the cost, thereby accelerating the commercialisation of solar cells and reducing the cost per Watt. IRTPV also suggests reducing silver consumption is mandatory as a first step towards reducing costs. To date this has mostly been achieved by more efficient printing architecture thereby reducing the silver paste consumption. Eventhough the front-side silver paste constitutes up to 40% of the cost of the solar cells, the crucial properties of easy to manufacture, contact resistance, series conductivity, oxidation resistance and ease of soldering have all led to screen printed silver pastes maintaining their position as the preferred technology.

The primary objective of this project is to develop low-cost, high-efficiency silver alloy pastes with reduced silver loading, which retains the crucial properties of pure silver product including conductivity, solderability and oxidation resistance. In order to achieve the objectives, the specific targets for the consortium are:

  1. Identify promising silver alloys by way of modelling and literature search and fabricate them
  2. Process the alloys into fine powders
  3. Formulate as a paste suitable for screen printing with compatible glass frit
  4. Screen the paste on silicon cells
  5. Test the promising formulations in PV modules.

This will ensure a thorough investigation within the timeframe, rapid commercialisation of the desired product and and excellent business opportunities to the members of the consortium.