Published on July 30th, 2012 | by Joshua S Hill1
Solar3D Successfully Fabricates Initial Prototype
Solar3D announced earlier this month the successful fabrication of an initial prototype of its breakthrough 3D solar cell technology, which is designed to maximize conversion of sunlight into electricity. The fabrication was done using commercially available equipment from Panasonic.
“We are pleased to announce the successful fabrication our initial prototype,” said Dr. Changwan Son, Director of Technology at Solar3D. “After the rigorous research and analytical effort of completing an optimized design of our high efficiency 3D solar cell using advanced semiconductor software, our next challenge was making a working prototype.
“Often times, good computer designs do not translate into devices that can be fabricated in the real word at acceptable costs. Since the beginning of this project, we always designed with manufacturability in mind.”
“We spent the past several months completing our fabrication process methodology,” continued Dr. Son. Now, we have put that process to the test and successfully fabricated a meaningful area of precise 3-dimensional photovoltaic nanostructures on the surface of a silicon wafer. We accomplished this task using commercially available equipment at the state-of-the-art Nanofabrication Facility at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).”
Solar3D’s design is a single-wafer silicon solar cell based on a 3-dimensional design with two very powerful and unique features: high conversion efficiency and wide-angle light collection. The simulated design efficiency of the design was over 25 percent, which equates to an increase of over 50 percent above commercially available silicon solar cells.
According to the company, “the special wide-angle light collection feature on the cell surface can capture more light in the morning and evening hours, as well as in the winter months when the sun is not directly overhead.”
“This is a major accomplishment for Solar3D,” Jim Nelson, CEO of Solar3D, said. ”The great challenge for us was to create a design that could be manufactured economically.
“Since we launched Solar3D a few years ago, we have seen an increasing number of researchers around the world experimenting with light trapping solar cell designs, confirming that we are on the right track. Many of the new developments are in academia using non-commercial fabrication processes and technologies. We have made important breakthroughs using commercial mass production equipment and processes. We believe that conventional flat 2D solar cell designs are a thing of the past. The next level of performance will be found in 3D, which will finally unleash the full potential of converting sunlight to electricity for the benefit of the world,” concluded Mr. Nelson.