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Posted: Jul 17, 2012

Solar3D Successfully Fabricates Initial Prototype

(Nanowerk News) Solar3D, Inc., the developer of a breakthrough 3-dimensional solar cell technology to maximize the conversion of sunlight into electricity, today announced the successful fabrication of an initial prototype of its 3D solar cell using commercially available equipment from Panasonic. The company’s recently developed low cost fabrication process was applied successfully for the precise creation of 3D light trapping and light converting nanostructures on a silicon wafer.
Dr. Changwan Son, Director of Technology at Solar3D, commented, “We are pleased to announce the successful fabrication our initial prototype. After the rigorous research and analytical effort of completing an optimized design of our high efficiency 3D solar cell using advanced semiconductor software, our next challenge was making a working prototype. Often times, good computer designs do not translate into devices that can be fabricated in the real word at acceptable costs. Since the beginning of this project, we always designed with manufacturability in mind.”
Image of the end view of the Solar3D prototype captured with a scanning electron microscope
Image of the end view of the Solar3D prototype captured with a scanning electron microscope.
“We spent the past several months completing our fabrication process methodology,” continued Dr. Son. “Now, we have put that process to the test and successfully fabricated a meaningful area of precise 3-dimensional photovoltaic nanostructures on the surface of a silicon wafer. We accomplished this task using commercially available equipment at the state-of-the-art Nanofabrication Facility at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).”
Jim Nelson, CEO of Solar3D, said, “This is a major accomplishment for Solar3D. The great challenge for us was to create a design that could be manufactured economically. Through the dedicated efforts of Dr. Son and his team and with guidance from Professor Nadir Dagli of UCSB, we have developed an innovative and low cost process to make these structures. We are filing an additional patent application to protect our proprietary fabrication process.”
“Since we launched Solar3D a few years ago, we have seen an increasing number of researchers around the world experimenting with light trapping solar cell designs, confirming that we are on the right track. Many of the new developments are in academia using non-commercial fabrication processes and technologies. We have made important breakthroughs using commercial mass production equipment and processes. We believe that conventional flat 2D solar cell designs are a thing of the past. The next level of performance will be found in 3D, which will finally unleash the full potential of converting sunlight to electricity for the benefit of the world,” concluded Mr. Nelson.
Solar3D’s innovative single wafer silicon solar cell is based on a 3-dimensional design with two very powerful and unique patent-pending features: high conversion efficiency and wide-angle light collection. The simulated design efficiency is over 25%, or approximately 50% higher than commercially available silicon solar cells. The special wide-angle light collection feature on the cell surface can capture more light in the morning and evening hours, as well as in the winter months when the sun is not directly overhead.
About Solar3D, Inc.
Solar3D, Inc. is developing a breakthrough 3-dimensional solar cell technology to maximize the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Up to 30% of incident sunlight is currently reflected off the surface of conventional solar cells, and more is lost inside the solar cell materials. Inspired by light management techniques used in fiber optic devices, our innovative solar cell technology utilizes a 3-dimensional design to trap sunlight inside micro-photovoltaic structures where photons bounce around until they are converted into electrons. An innovative wide-angle light collection feature on the cell surface allows for the collection of sunlight over a range of angles during the day. This next generation solar cell will be dramatically more efficient, resulting in a lower cost per watt that will make solar power affordable for the world. To learn more about Solar3D, please visit our website at http://www.Solar3D.com.
Source: Solar3D (press release)

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