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Solar Manufacturing R&D


Goals - The Solar Manufacturing R&D Lab at the Conn Center is able to assist researchers in implementing designs, materials, and processes into scalable manufacturing platforms with demonstration devices. The facility maintains the capabilities to design and manufacture large-area solar cells over multiple platforms, including first and second generation technologies with an emphasis on the breakthrough of third generation technologies. The facilities include the capabilities for continuous (roll-to-roll) production of photovoltaics. The roll-to-roll manufacturing is also adaptable to other technologies such as electrochromics, OLEDs, thin film batteries, and fuel cells. The center is capable of incoming quality control and utilizes materials characterization equipment at the Conn Center to facilitate qualification of solar and renewable devices. These abilities allow collaborations among University of Louisville researchers with fellow academics and industry partners across Kentucky.

Design - We are capable of assisting researchers in the design of solar photovoltaics, active and passive fenestration, and thin film flexible devices. Innovative designs that deviate from flat panels are the focus of production scale up and are uniquely positioned to address economics, weathering, constrained spaces, and the personalization of energy. 

Materials - We develop vendor relationships required to ensure that the materials required (conductive glass, plastics) are available for small-scale production. Researchers are also advised on the costs and volumes of materials required for roll-to-roll fabrication.

Thin film designs - We can design solar cells as well as components such as concentrators, light trapping, and anti-reflection coatings using computational modeling.

Download:  Thin Film Roll-to-Roll Deposition Equipment

Production Scales

Small Scale (verification) - We maintain the capabilities to design and manufacture single cells over multiple platforms, such as crystalline silicon, thin film crystalline, and organic thin film. These facilities are used to assist researchers to move their ideas from lab scale to demonstration. We maintain the equipment to build several types of cells and emphasize proper environmental health and safety handling of processes.

Mid Scale (continuous) - Beyond the capabilities to manufacture small-scale solar cells, the Conn Center focuses on continuous (roll-to-roll) fabrication of solar cells. This line is dedicated toward low energy production methods. Our equipment is configured to allow for multiple deposition techniques as well as development of in-line process control. This capability allows us to build economic models for large-scale production. Equipment includes a modular roll-to-roll coating assembly for coating flexible substrates and is capable of unwind/rewind, deposition, and curing as well as rapid reconfiguration. In addition, the lab also offers in-line process control for testing devices and feedback control.

Large Scale (implementation) - The final stage of large area deposition is a pilot-scale, continuous roll-to-roll coater for moving promising concepts to real world applications. The center has built relationships with vendors who can assist with pilot and full production. etc.

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