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Posted: Sep 05, 2012

Solar3D Unveils First Working Prototype of Nanostructured 3D Solar Cell

(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 and operation of a working 3-dimensional silicon solar cell that produces at least 250% of the power of a basic silicon solar cell.
Dr. Changwan Son, Solar3D’s Director of Technology, commented, “When measured relative to a conventional solar cell design, our working prototype produces electricity beyond our previous expectations. First, we fabricated our working prototype. Then we created a simple cell based on the conventional design, using the same fabrication environment, to serve as a control sample. By measuring the side-by-side power output of both cells, we were able to determine the relative performance under a number of conditions, ranging from bright sunlight to lower, diffuse light. In each test, our 3D Solar Cell consistently outperformed the control cell and produced at least 2˝ times the amount of electricity under the same conditions.”
light trapping 3D photovoltaic structures on a thin silicon wafer
Scanning electron microscope image of initial prototype of light trapping 3D photovoltaic structures on a thin silicon wafer.
“This is a game-changing result,” said Jim Nelson, CEO of Solar3D. “Two powerful characteristics of our 3D Solar Cell make it superior to current technology. First, it is substantially more efficient in producing power. Second, is our wide-angle light collection feature, which allows our 3D Solar Cell to collect light at all times of the day, month and year, an attribute unique in the solar world. Our computer simulation analysis indicated that the combination of these two features would produce double the power of a conventional solar cell. Based on the performance of our first working prototype, it appears that our 3D Solar Cell will exceed even that ambitious expectation. This device could be a giant leap forward, allowing solar power to achieve grid parity.”
Dr. Son continued, “Our mandate was to create a solar cell that would produce substantially more power than the current technology at a low enough cost of production to deliver a considerably lower cost per watt of solar electricity. We spent the first half of the year completing our fabrication process methodology. In July, we announced the fabrication and showed pictures of the first cell. Now, we have an actual working cell that produces substantially more power than the control samples, which fulfills part one of our two-part goal. Now, our near term objective is to continue to improve the fabrication process and the power output, as we optimize the cost of manufacturing. We believe that the result will be a 50% reduction in the cost of solar electricity. Perhaps the installed system cost savings will be even greater.”
Mr. Nelson concluded, “We are focused on bringing this breakthrough technology to market. Our next major step will be to produce a manufacturing prototype, which is required to undertake a pilot production run in early 2013. The pilot run will prove the 3D Cell’s performance characteristics in a production environment and lead us to a manufacturing partner and entry into the marketplace by the end of 2013.”
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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