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Organisation Introduction

At imec, we shape the future. How? By enabling nano- and digital technology innovation with a significant impact on the quality of life. And supported by the three pillars of our R&D:

  • a unique infrastructure that includes a 2.5-billion-euro 300mm semiconductor pilot line
  • more than 5,500 expert scientists from over 96 countries
  • an ecosystem of more than 600 world-leading industry partners and a global academic network.

Founded in 1984, imec quickly made its name as the leading research hub for advanced CMOS scaling. But not only. Photovoltaics has also always been part of imec’s portfolio. Located in Genk in the R&D innovation hub of EnergyVille, imec’s PV activities help to pave the way to an energy efficient and sustainable energy system that can prove to be both economically viable and socially just. Its infrastructure includes a PV module lab, an outdoor metrology lab for (BI)PV, a PV reliability lab and thin-film PV lab.


The project SiLEAN is perfectly positioned between the expertise of the imec PV group acquired from past experiences, and its ambitions for the future. A key in today’s imec PV research is the TWILL multiwire-based interconnection technology, a lean, aesthetic, and tunable approach to module configuration and fabrication. With its low-stress potential and low soldering temperature, it is the perfect match for the lean and thin Epi-Wafers and the silicon heterojunction technology. SiLEAN is thus the opportunity of pushing TWILL’s multifaceted developments further for compatibility with the future industry needs for thinner wafers, copper-based and silver-free contacts, and bismuth-free low-temperature interconnection. This future perspective connects with the past achievements in processing (ultra-thin) epitaxial-silicon based solar cells and our belief in the added value of kerfless wafering.

Finally and most importantly, SiLEAN enables imec to play its role of bridging academy and industry, by helping its partners to push closer to production advanced, greener, silicon heterojunction cells and new PV materials. To make it possible to eventually integrate photovoltaics everywhere, and for all.

Involvement in SiLEAN?

We – imec researchers – will contribute in SiLEAN by texturing the wafers, metallizing, and interconnecting the cells, and fabricating mini-modules: on the beginning of the process line, we will share our know-how on thin epitaxial foil handling and texture the thin wafers with random nano-scaled pyramids. On the end-of-line, we will explore the potential of graphene pastes for cell contacts, and will interconnect the graphene and copper-contacted cells with the TWILL multi-wire technology. Eventually, all the key innovations will be integrated at imec into lean and critical-raw-material-free mini-module demonstrators.

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“SiLEAN is the perfect collaboration framework for imec to shape the future of highly-efficient and sustainable silicon-based photovoltaics at module, cell and wafer levels.”

Project progress

© 2023 SiLEAN

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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