December 10th, 2019

The Printed Photovoltaics Team at CSIRO has been conducting research and development of low-cost methods for manufacturing and characterising flexible printed solar cells for more than a decade.

World-leading Solar Cell Printing and Testing Facilities

Through major collaborative research projects with partners in the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC), the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP), and Cooperative Research Centre Projects (CRC-P), an extensive suite of capabilities has been established at CSIRO’s Flexible Electronics Laboratory (FEL) in Clayton, Victoria to translate printed solar cell technology from the laboratory to manufacturing using commercially-available roll-to-roll (R2R) printing equipment. These facilities have allowed us to transition from lab-scale research activities towards realising commercialisation. State-of-the-art equipment includes a R2R screen-printer capable of producing up to 6,000 units per hour. Numerous other lab-scale and pilot-scale printing, coating and film-handling equipment allow us to transition to large-scale processing. The FEL also offers an outstanding range of facilities for charasterising solar cells of all sizes and shapes under various solar simnulators and conducting stability studies of encapsulated devices under accelerated and outdoor conditions. Our team of researchers has extensive expertise in optimising the efficiency of printed solar cells, and in maximising their durability through encapsulation methodologies. Selected capabilities are listed below. A comprehensive overview can be found here. 

Customised Rapid Screening Platform

We have designed and constructed several unique slot-die coaters enabling lab-scale fabrication of solar cells on a variety of substrates up to 100 mm × 100 mm using a coating process that is directly scalable to industrial-scale R2R printing and coating processes. These coaters enable routine and rapid evaluation of materials and coating conditions for their suitability in larger-scale R2R printing/coating.


R2R Solar Cell Printing & Coating Test Bed

Our benchtop R2R printer/coater can deposit PV inks on flexible substrates up to 150 mm wide, in run lengths of more than 50 meters. This commercially-available machine has been modified by our team to operate in a variety of ‘Reverse Gravure’ or ‘Slot-Die’ coating modes and is used routinely to produce the standard-design 100 cm2 PV modules we use for benchmarking the performance of materials and processes. To date, our record Power Conversion Efficiency for standard modules produced using this benchtop R2R test-bed is more than 9%.

Pilot-Scale R2R Printed PV Film

The pilot-scale R2R slot-die and screen-printing lines at CSIRO are capable of producing PV films on flexible substrates up to 350 mm wide, in run lengths of more than 200 meters. With minor modifications, such as the development of in-line monitoring systems for film thickness and PV performance, this commercially-available equipment has already produced around 300 m2 of PV film, demonstrating the technical feasibility of this technology

Gloveboxes and other benchtop equipment

Several state-of-the-art gloveboxes are dedicated to various activities that require a control environment. Several thin-film deposition systems are available for thermally depositing a wide variety of materials including metal electrodes, and small organic and inorganic molecules for lab-scale solar cell fabrication. Several spin-coaters in glovebox and fume-hood are available. In addition, several bench-top printing/coating equipment including doctor blade, bar coater, gravure coater, among others are available.



Capability – a comprehensive overview (see here)