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Project overview


This project aims to improve the cost-effectiveness of current mass-market solar panels (PERC and TOPCon) by improving cell efficiencies.

Key results

  • Developing a low contact area metallisation scheme to address the efficiency limitations for current industrial screen-printed PERC and TOPCon solar cells. Key outcomes included the identification of efficiency roadmaps towards 24% for industrial PERC and 24.5% for industrial TOPCon solar cells without the need for transitions to other metallisation techniques.
  • The novel contacting schemes developed in this project will provide significant scope for improving the efficiency of industrial screen-printed PERC and TOPCon solar cells via overcoming the fundamental performance limitations of screen-printed contacts in silicon solar cells.
  • Outcomes of this Project could increase the efficiency of solar cells and modules, leading to more electricity generation and financial benefits. In addition, the reduced manufacturing costs of solar cells and modules could also result in higher uptake of solar energy, leading to reduced reliance on fossil fuels and fewer carbon emissions.


Improving solar cell efficiencies and output without increasing production costs will help reduce the levelised cost of energy. PERC is a mainstream and cost-effective technology. However, with efficiencies of only 22.5% in mass production – well behind the record 25% efficient laboratory UNSW PERL – there is significant scope to improve. In addition, the up-and-coming TOPCon technology is currently too expensive for mass manufacturing due to the limited cell efficiency gains over PERC. A key performance limiting factor for PERC and TOPCon is front surface emitter and metal/silicon interface recombination with the current screen-printing approach.


Researchers at UNSW will develop novel low-area laser-doped selective emitters compatible with proven and dominant screen-printing technology for PERC and TOPCon, requiring minimal capital expenditure/processing sequence changes. This will be achieved by performing laser doping formed through dielectrics to allow 30-micron alignment precision with floating screen-printed contacts, yet resulting in <2% laser-doped- and ~1% metal/Si interface areas, therefore greatly reducing emitter and front surface metal/silicon interface recombination. The selective emitter for TOPCon will also use aluminium dopant atoms in the existing surface passivation layers, minimising process step additions.


The project aims to develop a low contact area metallisation scheme to address the efficiency limitations for current for industrial screen-printed PERC and TOPCon solar cells. It will determine a pathway to increase industrial screen-printed PERC solar cells from 22.5% to >24% efficiency without the need to transition to plated contacts. It will also develop a pathway to take TOPCon from 22.7% to >24.5% with the implementation of a selective emitter. This is expected to decrease the cost of manufacturing by 5% (PERC) and 6.8% (TOPCon), with minimal modifications from existing mass-manufacturing processes.

Additional impact

In addition to five jobs supported by this project, the project outcomes could form the basis for future localised passivated contact technologies for PERC and TOPCon. With PERC and TOPCon identified as the two dominant technologies for the next decade, the project is likely to have a significant industrial impact.

Last updated 18 May 2023


Solar research funding awarded to 16 new projects

New funding will help solar researchers to develop panels that are more cost-effective and efficient.

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