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Posted: July 14, 2009

Breakthrough Technology to Bridge Gap Between Inexpensive Thin-Film and Higher Efficiency Silicon Wafer Solar Technologies

(Nanowerk News) XsunX, Inc., an established solar company, today announced that it is developing a breakthrough thin-film photovoltaic (TFPV) cross-industry technology that may soon utilize the excess manufacturing capacity of the mature hard disc drive (HDD) industry to mass produce high efficiency, low cost solar cells to truly capture the power of the sun.
Mr. Joseph Grimes, XsunX's President, stated, "XsunX is excited to announce its expanded plan for development. The breakthrough thin-film opportunity, which is described at our new web site, was developed from an initial idea last fall and has matured to a reality today. We are working rapidly with our strategic partners to commercialize this cross-industry technology. We believe that this breakthrough can overcome current solar technology manufacturing limitations and revolutionize the solar industry."
Current techniques for the production of solar cells based on the use of Copper Indium Gallium (di) Selenide (CIGS) thin films, a solar technology that holds the record for thin film efficiencies at nearly 20%, do not leverage stationary, small area, high rate, production technologies that allow for the precise control of thin film properties. Development and production of CIGS, and many other thin films, have focused on the use of large area substrates or continuous moving roll-to-roll deposition methods that result in lower efficiencies.
XsunX's revolutionary manufacturing method combines the higher cell efficiencies that can be achieved through small area processing techniques, approximately 5" square wafers, with the high rate processing techniques developed within the hard disc media industry. We believe that through the successful combination of these techniques, overall factory yields (total watts of production per day) will be increased resulting in lower production costs while still delivering the full energy and low cost potential that CIGS based devices offer.
These wafers, on stainless steel, are similar in size to silicon wafers used in nearly all solar modules manufactured today. High efficiency flexible CIGS solar cells provide an immense opportunity for use in multiple market segments. XsunX envisions these thin film wafers as the solar building blocks for a wide variety of applications including:
  • Replacing Existing Silicon Wafers: A virtual drop in replacement for the costly and unpredictable silicon wafer costs. This is a vast market opportunity to replace aging technology.
  • Utility Scale Solar Fields: Due to the modular building block aspect of using wafers, solar module size and power output can be tailored to deliver the needs of any size solar farm or application. The constraints of monolithic thin film technology no longer limit panel size.
  • BIPV Products: High performance thin film flexible CIGS wafers can be designed into an array of building products including roofing materials, building facades, and glass.
  • Residential Markets: Unlike lower performance thin film solutions, high performance CIGS modules deliver the energy density necessary to make residential applications economical.
  • Consumer Products: A growing array of consumer products, from hand held devices to vehicles and gadgets of all types, have begun to integrate solar. Thin film CIGS wafers can be sized to meet the needs of these rapidly growing market segments.
  • "We see this opportunity as a step forward for our company at a time when many solar companies are struggling to differentiate themselves within a market that has become increasingly filled with status quo technologies," stated Mr. Robert Wendt, Chief Technology Officer for XsunX. "Our approach to CIGS thin film, combining sophisticated high rate HDD equipment with proven CIGS processes that have been matured in the laboratory, offers XsunX an opportunity to differentiate by providing significant improvements and cost reductions for the use of solar power," concluded Wendt.
    The Company sees tremendous opportunities to deploy this breakthrough technology within the well-established and very mature HDD industry. Due to the downturn of the global economy and evolving technology shifts, the HDD industry is in need of another way to use its excess manufacturing capacity. XsunX estimates that converting only one half of the HDD industry, which accounts for the production of over 600 million hard disks per year, would be the equivalent of adding nearly 3GWp per year of solar production capacity.
    Source: XsunX (press release)
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