Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Conductive Ink Technology Revolutionizing the Photovoltaic Industry

Our Sicrys™ conductive inks were designed to accelerate the adoption of solar photovolatics by achieving significant cost reductions in the production of silicon solar cells through inkjet printing.

Cumulative operating PV capacity in the U.S. is now over 15 GW and solar PV accounted for more than half of new electric generating capacity added in the first half of 2014 (SEIA). Still, solar comprises only a tiny fraction of electricity generation in the U.S. Although the cost has declined dramatically, it will have to come down more if solar is ever to make up a significant share of the U.S. energy supply. In addition to the high cost of printing materials, the majority of solar PV panels use crystalline silicon; therefore, improvements in crystalline silicon cell production technologies can speed adoption by further driving down costs (silicon accounts for 75 percent of the total cost of solar cell production).

Sicrys™ single-crystal nanometric silver conductive ink promises to revolutionize the solar cell production process by enabling potential cost reductions of up to 10 to 20 percent $/W wise. Specifically, our silver conductive ink enables non-contact digital inkjet printing rather than traditional screen (or stencil) printing, which cuts down on breakage and will allow for thinner solar cells to be made, thus reducing manufacturing costs even further. Sicrys™ inks also enable narrower conductive patterns, increasing efficiency by increasing the cell’s active area and decreasing shading.

We have also developed the world’s first copper nanometric conductive ink, which delivers the outstanding properties of our Sicrys™ silver ink with even greater cost efficiency (based on significantly cheaper metal: $510/kg for silver versus $8/kg for copper). Though copper is far more cost efficient, ink manufacturers have struggled with oxidation. We have overcome that hurdle in the development of our copper inks which are very stable to oxidation. Copper inkjet printing replaces the expensive multi step processes used for masking and plating.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mass Production of Printed Electronics Made Possible With Conductive Digital Inkjet Technology

Our Sicrys™ nanometric conductive inks are currently being used to accelerate the adoption of printed electronics in mass production applications.  With the advancement of printed electronics, intelligence can be brought to virtually any object by enabling the use of fast, inexpensive inkjet printing technologies that can be used on flexible substrates such as plastic, fabric or even paper, as well as enabling 2.5-D and 3-D printed electronics.

With 3-D printing, the electronics can be embedded within the structural material, which promises to revolutionize the electronics industry by allowing for smaller, lighter, more efficient and more customized products.

The two major applications of SicrysTM conductive inks currently in development are:
  • Antennas 
Manufacturing and assembling antennas is a costly and time-consuming process that adds considerably to the cost of such products. The use of digital printing technologies with conductive inks can save on costs by reducing capital requirements for machinery and tooling, reducing assembly costs, reducing material costs, shrinking supply chain requirements and enabling faster production. Our inks can make it easier to modify design, reduce weight and size, and enhance connectivity. We are working with several manufacturers to develop printed antenna prototypes using digital printing technologies; preliminary results show that costs can be reduced by as much as half.
  • Printed Circuit Boards 
Many electronic devices are created using analog processes, such as screen printing and photolithography. One such example of this is printed circuit boards. We recently entered into an MOU with a top-tier printed circuit board manufacturer to bring the industry the first ever commercial mass production of printed circuit boards using a digital conductive inkjet printing process. Our Sicrys™ inks not only reduce the overall amount of hazardous waste generated in the production of printed circuit boards, but they also transform the analog production process into a digital process, reducing costs and time to market.