Recently I was testing the resistance of a new low temperature metallization paste* (for solar photovoltaic assembly) in the lab. The samples were initially tested with a 4-point probe, just before entering a chamber set at 85°C and 85% relative humidity. To my surprise, the resistance dropped noticeably (as seen in the chart).
I brought the results to the material’s creator in our R&D department, ready to wow him with my discovery. I exclaimed, “I just finished testing the samples we put into the 85/85 chamber and can’t believe the values I’m getting!” Without a flinch he replied: “The resistance went down, didn’t it? That’s a unique feature of this material.”
While I didn’t gain any cool points in R&D for discovering an awesome new feature of an upcoming product, I hope the trait of this material can be useful for our customers (some of whom have since noted the improved characteristics after reliability testing).
The thing I learned from this experience is how important end of life testing is for metallization paste – all too often samples are only compared based on time-zero testing. This will change the way I compare metallization pastes from now on.
*For my followers who aren't familiar with low-temperature metallization paste,it is also referred to as "grid ink", "silver ink", and "conductive ink". Low-temperature metallization paste is a silver-filled contact material used in the assembly of photovoltaic solar cells. It gets its low-temperature label because it is processed at lower-than-traditional glass frit temperatures of ~1,000°C. In addition to its role as a contact for thin-film connections, low-temperature metallization paste is also useful as a low-temperature alternative metallization on Si-based cells.
Learn more here.