Readers have asked how to visually assess a tabbing ribbon interconnection after a bond test.
This image is a cell that has been bond tested after soldering.
The first indication that you have a good bond is the physical resistance during the bond test. Even if you are peeling the ribbon off by hand, you will still notice if the ribbon jerks as it tears away from the cell. Fluctuation of bond strength may be caused by insufficient or inconsistent tabbing parameters, incomplete fluxing, or even contamination on the tabbing ribbon. If the resistance varies rapidly across the length of the bond, there could be an issue with microcracks. Microcracking of the underlying silicon is usually caused by built-up CTE (Coefficient of Thermal Expansion) stresses from tabbing. The ideal bond will peel apart where the tabbing ribbon meets the metallization, and it will be uniform. It should look like the image seen here.
There are some things you can do before, during, and after tabbing to get a better looking, and higher reliability, tabbing bond.
Consider using alternative tabbing alloys and fluxes. Using Bi-based alloys at lower temperatures will lower the stresses caused by CTE mismatch and help eliminate microcracking. Softer tabbing ribbon can help keep stresses to a minimum as well.
Cell tabbing/stringing machines have many adjustable parameters. You owe it to your customers to explore the effects of parameter changes so you know you are building the best modules possible. (If I have time I’ll probably come to your facility to help – all you have to do is ask.)
Not everyone has time to wait, but if you have the luxury to let the tabbed cells sit for a day you should notice much better test results. Stresses built up in the silicon are partially relieved after 24-48 hours, which will result in less microcracking.
Let me know if I can help you make some beautiful cell interconnections!