A laser-based silicon-deposition technique developed by NanoGram Corporation (Milpitas, CA) for solar cell manufacturing has won an Energy Innovator Award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The process reduces solar cell cost to the level of thin-film photovoltaics while delivering high efficiency, according to NanoGram.
Making crystalline silicon solar cells normally involves drawing boules of single-crystal silicon from a crucible full of molten silicon–a delicate and expensive process. Wafers are then sliced from the boule and then made into the finished product. What NanoGram has developed instead is a laser reactive-deposition technique that grows silicon crystals in a more-direct approach, reducing silicon consumption by more than a factor of four. Cost reductions generated using this approach are expected by NanoGram to bring solar cell module costs well below a dollar a watt by the time high-volume manufacturing production levels are reached in 2012.
An R&D pilot plant is currently under construction at NanoGram’s headquarter facilities.
Source: Laser Focus World