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SEMTE | Hildreth Lab

Sunshot Grant Awarded!

    The DOE press release for the Sunshot Photovoltaics Research and Development 2: Modules and Systems (PVRD2) awardees has been announced.  Working with Prof. Mariana Bertoni and Prof. Aytekin Gel, we received an award to advance photovoltaic cell metallization using reactive inks.

   We expect this technology to reduce the amount of silver used to metallize photovoltaic cells by 90% (from 100 mg/cell currently to 10 mg/cell).  This means we will surpass the International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaic Results (ITRPV) 2026 metallization goal by a factor of 4 – they are targeting 40 mg/cell by 2026 and we will deliver 10 mg/cell!  This could save photovoltaics industry over $9 billion/year in reduced metallization costs.  Additionally, this technology will reduce the metallization temperature from >500 ˚C to less than 100 ˚C.  This low metallization temperature not only supports current generation photovoltaic cells, but also next generation technologies – such as heterojunction cells and perovskite thin films.

Project Name: Direct Metallization with Reactive Inks – Assessment of Reliability and Process Sensitivities
Location: Tempe, AZ
SunShot Award Amount: $1,400,000
Awardee Cost Share: $155,601
Principal Investigator: Owen Hildreth
Project Summary: This project is investigating the material and growth properties of reactive metal inks in order to explore their potential use in the metallization of silicon solar cell. The research team seeks to radically change the cost structure of the cell by dramatically reducing silver consumption. This technique is of particular importance to temperature sensitive devices, such as heterojunction architectures, where the low processing temperatures of reactive inks offer a significant advantage and alternative metallization methods are currently expensive.

Dissolvable Support Technology Highlighted by ASME

Nancy Giges’ at ASME wrote up an excellent interview on our Dissolvable Metal Support Technology.

“If it hadn’t been for a bit of serendipity, Owen Hildreth may never have thought about solving a problem that has developed into a potentially game-changing 3D printing method, promising to overcome a major challenge in producing metal objects.”  Read more at:

Write up in 3D Printing Industry

Our research on dissolvable supports for Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) printed metals just got highlighted by 3D Printing Industry.  

On a side note, the comment section is interesting.  It is always amusing, yet disheartening, when someone clearly didn’t read the article but has strong opinions none the less.  To reassure our readers, yes, our process is self-terminating with the underlying component material protected under cathodic bias – only the supports are removed.  We have tight control over the termination process and can maintain the dissolution depth to less than 100 µm now.



We made the March cover of 3DP+

Our manuscript, Dissolvable Supports in Powder Bed Fusion-Printed Stainless Steel, made the cover of the March issue of 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing (3DP+).  This work represents an important innovation that replaces hours of post-print mechanical machining/grinding with simple sensitization and self-terminating electrochemical dissolution processes.  Exampled in stainless steel using carbon as the sensitizing agent, we demonstrate this process by electrochemically removing supports from a set of interlocking stainless steel rings.