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Posted: Sep 14, 2011
Natcore Technology Receives U.S. Patent for Nanostructured Solar Cells
(Nanowerk News) The U.S. Patent Office has awarded patent no. 7,999,176 B2 to Natcore Technology Inc. for a solar cell structure that uses carbon nanotubes to improve cell performance. Approved in April, this patent was issued on August 16.
This patent, and the three earlier foundational patents on which it is based, cover a liquid phase deposition (LPD) process for growing inorganic films on silicon. One of these earlier patents is at the heart of Natcore's businesses, particularly in the photovoltaic area.
The patent abstract reads as follows:
"Improved photovoltaic devices and methods are disclosed. In one embodiment, an exemplary photovoltaic device includes a semiconductor layer and a light-responsive layer (which can be made, for example, of a semiconductor material) which form a junction, such as a p-n junction. The light-responsive layer can include a plurality of carbon nanostructures, such as carbon nanotubes, located therein. In many cases, the carbon nanostructures can provide a conductive pathway within the light-responsive layer. In other embodiments, exemplary photovoltaic devices include semiconductor nanostructures, which can take a variety of forms, in addition to the carbon nanostructures. Further embodiments include a wide variety of other configurations and features. Methods of fabricating photovoltaic devices are also disclosed."
Natcore plans to continue development work on thin-film solar cells at its Research and Development Center, located in Kodak's Eastman Business Park, Rochester, NY. There it will have access to roll-to-roll manufacturing machinery formerly used to produce Eastman Kodak's photo film.
Chuck Provini, Natcore's president and CEO, says "This patent, together with our recent success with an all-quantum-dot tandem solar cell, demonstrates that Natcore has taken a quantum leap forward in our push for high-efficiency thin-film solar cells. They are critical components in our program that aims to double the efficiency of solar cells and to halve their cost. "
The patent was assigned to Vanguard Solar, which was acquired by Natcore Technology in March 2010. Thus Natcore now solely owns the patent, along with Vanguard's other intellectual property. This U.S. patent award provides Natcore with intellectual property protection for its nanostructured solar cells in the world's largest and most important markets.