Fundamentals of Using Cracked Film Lithography to Pattern Transparent Conductive Metal Grids for Photovoltaics

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20 Scopus Citations


The fundamentals of using cracked film lithography (CFL) to fabricate metal grids for transparent contacts in solar cells were studied. The underlying physics of drying-induced cracks were well-predicted by an empirical correlation relating crack spacing to capillary pressure. CFL is primarily controlled by varying the crack template thickness, which establishes a three-way tradeoff between the areal density of cracks, crack width, and spacing between cracks, which in turn determine final grid transmittance, grid sheet resistance, and the semiconductor resistance for a given solar cell. Since CFL uses a lift-off process, an additional constraint is that the metal thickness must be less than 1/3 of the crack template thickness. The transmittance/grid sheet resistance/wire spacing tradeoffs measured in this work were used to calculate solar cell performance: CFL-patterned grids should outperform screen-printed grids for narrow cells (0.5-2 cm wide) and/or cells with high semiconductor sheet resistance (≥100 ω/sq), making CFL attractive for monolithically integrated thin-film photovoltaic modules.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4630-4636
Number of pages7
Issue number17
StatePublished - 5 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2020 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-75980


  • cracked film lithography
  • metal grids
  • solar cells
  • transparent contacts


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