Imec to exhibit at EU PVSEC

Imec will discuss its photovoltaics manufacturing research at the EU PVSEC show, Valencia, September 6- 10. Imec’s research into photovoltaics aims at finding techniques to fabricate cheaper and more efficient solar cells.

(August 4, 2010) — Imec will discuss its photovoltaics manufacturing research at the upcoming EU PVSEC show, Valencia, Spain, September 6- 10, 2010. Imec’s research into photovoltaics aims at finding techniques to fabricate cheaper and more efficient solar cells.

Imec leverages silicon solar cell research onto a range of technologies, going from silicon solar cells (the bulk of today’s commercially available cells), over organic solar cells, to advanced stacks of super-efficient solar cells based on germanium substrates (to be used, for example, in satellites or solar concentrators) and germanium-based thermophotovoltaic cells.

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In 2009, imec launched an industrial affiliation program (IIAP) on crystalline Si PV. As with imec’s other successful IIAPs in IC scaling, imec defined the generic base for the research: developing technologies to reduce the cost of energy production through silicon solar cells. Companies are invited to join imec’s Si PV IIAP to do joint precompetitive research.  By bringing companies together around this program, imec aims to create an ecosystem with solar cell producers, material suppliers, tool suppliers, and energy companies. The cross-fertilization between these will advance the research to new levels. The multi-partner R&D initiative has already generated a lot of interest from industrial players. Important players such as Schott Solar, Total, GDF Suez and Photovoltech …  joined the Si PV IIAP already last year.

At PVSEC, imec will report advances in its Si PV program including record efficiencies on crystalline Si solar cells fabricated on a quasi industrial process. Visit the research leader at Booth #A30/Level 2/Hall 3.

Other results that will be highlighted:

Record efficiencies for large-area epitaxial thin-film silicon solar cells
Imec realized large-area (70cm2) epitaxial solar cells with efficiencies of up to 16.3% on high-quality substrates. And efficiencies of up to 14.7% were achieved on low-quality substrates showing the potential of thin-film epitaxial solar cells for industrial manufacturing. The results were achieved within imec’s silicon solar cell industrial affiliation program (IIAP) that explores and develops advanced process technologies aiming a sharp reduction in silicon use, whilst increasing cell efficiency and hence further lowering substantially the cost per Watt peak.

“These efficiencies of up to 16.3% on high-quality substrates and of up to14.7 % on low-cost substrates show that industrial-level efficiencies are within reach for this technology,” said Jef Poortmans, director imec energy/solar program. “By implementing copper-based contact schemes, we can further increase the efficiency making epitaxial thin-film silicon solar cells on low-cost wafers an interesting industrial technology.”

Spray coating optimization to produce organic solar cells with efficiencies above 3.7%
Imec optimized its spray coating technique resulting in organic solar cells with the same power conversion efficiency of the reference spin coated devices, above 3.7%. With the development of two-solvent systems for each of the materials to be deposited, imec achieved smooth and uniform polymer thin films with excellent optical and electronic properties via a large-area, roll-to-roll compatible technology that could replace spin coating and enable the inexpensive production of organic solar cells.

Significant reduction of cost of germanium-based thermophotovoltaic (TPV) cells
Regarding imec TPV research, imec developed an improved processing technique for germanium-based thermophotovoltaic (TPV) cells resulting in significant reduction of cell cost, an essential step to develop a market for thermophotovoltaic applications. Imec’s newly developed TPV cells are fabricated on germanium substrates with a rough surface, instead of the traditionally used substrates with expensive mirror-polished front surfaces.

Imec performs world-leading research in nanoelectronics. Find further information about imec at www.imec.be.

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