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Structural Integration of Silicon Solar Cells and Lithium-ion Batteries Using Printed Electronics


Inkjet printing of electrode using copper nanoparticle ink is presented. Electrode was printed on a flexible glass epoxy composite substrate using drop on demand piezoelectric dispenser and was sintered at 200°C in N2 gas condition. The printed electrodes were made with various widths and thicknesses. Surface morphology of electrode was analyzed using scanning electron microscope (SEM) and atomic force microscope (AFM). Reliable dimensions for printed electronics were found from this study.

Single-crystalline silicon solar cells were tested under four-point bending to find the feasibility of directly integrating them onto a carbon fiber/epoxy composite laminate. These solar cells were not able to withstand 0.2% strain. On the other hand, thin-film amorphous silicon solar cells were subjected to flexural fatigue loadings. The current density-voltage curves were analyzed at different cycles, and there was no noticeable degradation on its performance up to 100 cycles.

A multifunctional composite laminate which can harvest and store solar energy was fabricated using printed electrodes. The integrated printed circuit board (PCB) was co-cured with a carbon/epoxy composite laminate by the vacuum bag molding process in an autoclave; an amorphous silicon solar cell and a thin-film solid state lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery were adhesively joined and electrically connected to a thin flexible PCB; and then the passive components such as resistors and diodes were electrically connected to the printed circuit board by silver pasting.

Since a thin-film solid state Li-ion battery was not able to withstand tensile strain above 0.4%, thin Li-ion polymer batteries were tested under various mechanical loadings and environmental conditions to find the feasibility of using the polymer batteries for our multifunctional purpose. It was found that the Li-ion polymer batteries were stable under pressure and tensile loading without any noticeable degradation on its charge and discharge performances. Also, the active materials did not decompose at 80°C, and the battery was performing well under low temperature of -27°C. Lastly, the batteries were embedded inside a carbon fiber/epoxy composite laminate to characterize their performance under fatigue loading.

Finally, an intense pulsed light (IPL) was used to sinter printed silver nanoink patterns. X-ray diffraction (XRD) was used to find grain size of printed silver nanoink patterns. From these analyses it was confirmed that IPL is able to adequately sinter silver nanoink patterns for printed electronics without degradation of the substrates in less than 30 ms.

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