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Posted: September 25, 2009
QuantaSol Adopts Dilute Nitrides to Boost Absorption and Solar Efficiency
(Nanowerk News) QuantaSol Ltd, an independent designer and manufacturer of strain-balanced quantum-well solar cells has exclusively licensed advanced materials growth technology from the University of Houston to make its manufacturing process simpler and cheaper, while further improving solar cell efficiency.
“We’ve already tested the benefits of using Houston’s dilute nitride materials in the way we engineer quantum wells in our cells,” said Keith Barnham, CSO and co-founder of QuantaSol. “The exclusive worldwide licence is a strategic move to ensure we maintain our performance advantage, and we will work with our colleagues in Houston to develop the techniques further in commercial production in 2010.”
QuantaSol combines nanostructures, ‘quantum wells’, of two or more different alloys, in order to obtain synthetic crystals. The crystalline structure can be tuned during manufacture to overcome the absorption problems associated with current concentrator photo-voltaic (CPV) cell designs. The quantum well effect also greatly enhances the photovoltaic conversion efficiency, as already proven by its recent world record efficiency single junction device. Ultimately QuantaSol will produce highly efficient triple junction CPV devices in 2010.
The use of dilute nitrides will allow QuantaSol to reduce the number of quantum well layers it needs to introduce into each junction, while maintaining or increasing solar efficiency. This further reduces the thickness and manufacturing cost of its production devices.
“This is the first major collaboration QuantaSol has announced,” said Chris Shannon, QuantaSol’s new CEO. “It indicates just how close the company is getting to being able to produce very efficient devices in production quantities. I’m really looking forward to the progress we will deliver over the next 12 months.”
Chris Shannon is an experienced semiconductor, optics and photonics leader. He joined QuantaSol in September in a planned move to structure the company for volume manufacture.
"We are excited to cooperate with QuantaSol in its application of the basic patents of Prof. Alex Freundlich on quantum well solar cells. These joint efforts will advance solar cell technology and help increase our use of renewable resources, " said Alex Ignatiev, director, Center for Advanced Materials, and distinguished university professor of physics, chemistry, and electrical and computer engineering for the University of Houston.
QuantaSol was established in June 2007 as a spin-out of Imperial College London to commercialise the University’s solar cell IP and offer devices to concentrator Photovoltaic (PV) systems developers. The company has a product development and test laboratory in Kingston-upon-Thames in the UK.
QuantaSol is funded and backed by the Low Carbon Accelerator and Imperial Innovations, and its strain-balanced quantum-well solar cell (SB-QWSC) is believed to be the highest performing single-junction concentrator cell in the world with the potential to produce very durable multi-junction cells with record operating efficiencies.
QuantaSol is ranked 85th in The Guardian's 2009 'Global Cleantech 100' ranking of the world's most promising clean technology companies.
About the Center for Advance Materials at the University of Houston
The Center for Advanced Materials (CAM) addresses research and development of advanced materials and their fundamental science while maintaining a strong applications focus. CAM develops new materials leading to technologies of importance to the nation’s future energy needs within its industry-academia-government partnerships, and moves these and other nano-engineered advances into the commercial sector for economic and social benefit, while training the next generation of scientists and engineers.