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Posted: Jul 19, 2011
Colnatec Wins Phase II Funding to Develop Advanced Process Control Sensors for Solar Cells
(Nanowerk News) Gilbert-based Colnatec LLC, a designer, developer and manufacturer of state-of-the-art sensors and electronic instrumentation, has been awarded a Phase II $450,000 U.S. Department of Energy research grant to continue development of a self-cleaning, process control sensor for the manufacture of thin film (CIGS) solar cells. This follows a Phase I award the firm received last year, and it allows them to build upon current state-of-the-art technology and develop enhancements that will result in the production of an unlimited lifetime sensor capable of improving solar cell conversion efficiencies.
"This sensor is a revolutionary development in continuous vacuum coating technology," said Colnatec CTO Scott Grimshaw. "Receiving the Phase II grant award will allow us to build and deliver first generation prototypes to thin film solar cell and flexible lighting manufacturers. We now can go from concept to reality on an accelerated schedule to stay in-sync with a rapidly developing solar market."
The successful construction of a heated, self-cleaning microbalance sensor will have applications far beyond thin film solar cell production according to Mr. Grimshaw. This includes furnace processing, chemical vapor deposition (CVD), atomic layer deposition (ALD) and low temperature thin film processing. Also included is a new class of organic thin film devices known to be difficult to monitor in vacuum processing lines, such as OLEDs (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) and thin film lighting.
The SBIR Program (Small Business Innovation Research) is a competitive program ensuring that small, innovative, high-tech businesses are significant participants in the federal government's research and development efforts. Multiple federal departments participate in the SBIR Program to award up to $2.1 billion to small businesses.
"We're extremely pleased at winning this Phase II award," said Colnatec CEO Wendy Jameson. "The funding from the DOE not only enables small businesses like Colnatec to compete at the same level as bigger companies and create jobs, but also helps manufacturing in the USA by advancing innovation that we can all benefit from."
Colnatec designs, develops and manufactures state-of-the-art sensors and electronic instrumentation used in the production of thin film solar cells, OLED displays (cameras, cell phones, monitors), optics, high speed electrical devices and semiconductor wafers. Through the use of patented and patent-pending technologies, researchers, manufacturers and system builders are able to increase the conversion efficiency of photovoltaic films, increase production run times, lower costs, improve overall performance, and ultimately increase yield. Colnatec is the holder of 8 patents, the recipient of a Department of Energy Phase I SBIR Award for a revolutionary sensor to be used in manufacturing CIGS solar cells and one of 8 winners of the Arizona Commerce Authority Innovation Challenge Grant Program to promote innovation in the technology sector. Colnatec's website http://colnatec.com/ or call (480) 634-1449.