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Posted: February 11, 2008
Telecom research leads to solar cell breakthrough
(Nanowerk News) Semiconductor insights gained by engineering physics researchers at McMaster University for the telecommunications industry have led to a research breakthrough in the future development of high-efficiency solar cells.
The Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and ARISE Technologies Corporation, a solar energy firm headquartered in Waterloo, today announced that they are investing $4.1 million to advance commercialization of McMaster’s research.
Rafael Kleiman and John Preston, professors of engineering physics at McMaster, discovered a patent-pending method of applying single crystal layers of compound semiconductors, such as gallium-arsenide, on single crystal silicon crystal which they expect will convert sunlight to electricity twice as efficiently as other materials systems commonly in use.
Commenting on the news, Ian MacLellan, ARISE’s President and CEO remarked, “This project is expected to introduce a novel way to manufacture solar cells. When combined with ARISE's proprietary silicon technology currently being developed, there is the potential to more than double traditional PV cell efficiencies.”
“Playing a significant role in the commercialization of McMaster’s important research is part of OCE’s mandate to develop Ontario-based clean energy solutions,” said Mark Romoff, president and CEO, Ontario Centres of Excellence. “Through partnerships like this, the world will be looking at Ontario for the best manufactured solar cells for both homes and businesses.”
The ability to deposit high quality single crystal layers of selected chemical elements is key to absorbing and converting more sunlight to electricity, but achieving the necessary alignment on silicon was thought to be highly improbable at a large scale. The approach of combining different materials to capture a greater share of the solar spectrum, into multi-junction photovoltaic solar cells, today uses high-cost substrates such as germanium, and has mostly been deployed for space-based applications. However, solar-grade silicon crystal technology being developed by ARISE Technologies has the potential to make the discovery cost-competitive for large-scale applications.
The silicon-based multi-junction solar cells being developed leverage existing solar cell manufacturing technologies, which should speed time to commercialization and keep costs competitive.
“We have the Ontario Centres of Excellence to thank for bringing us together with ARISE Technologies,” said John Preston. “Their introduction allowed us to transfer more than 20 years of experience in semiconductor technology to developing higher efficiency renewable solar energy.”
ARISE Technologies is dedicated to accelerating the use of solar energy in mainstream markets. The Company’s shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol APV and on the Frankfurt Open Market Exchange under the symbol A3T. Additional information is available at www.arisetech.com and www.sedar.com.
About Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc.
Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc. drives the commercialization of cutting-edge research across key market sectors to build the economy of tomorrow and secure Ontario’s global competitiveness. OCE also fosters the training and development of the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, and is a key partner with Ontario’s industry, universities, colleges, research hospitals, investors and governments. OCE’s five Centres work in communications and information technology, earth and environmental technologies, energy, materials and manufacturing and photonics. (www.oce-ontario.org)
About McMaster University
McMaster University is a research-intensive university based in Hamilton. One of only four Canadian universities to be listed on the Top 100 universities in the world, McMaster has a student population of more than 23,000, and an alumni population of over 130,000 in 128 countries. McMaster’s Department of Engineering Physics teaches the application of modern physics concepts towards the engineering of new technological advances. (http://engphys.mcmaster.ca)