SANTA BARBARA, USA: Solar3D Inc., the developer of a breakthrough 3-dimensional solar cell technology to maximize the conversion of sunlight into electricity, is making steady progress on the fabrication of a proof-of-concept prototype solar cell in the world-class Nanofabrication Facility at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Inspired by light management techniques used in fiber optic devices, the company’s 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. Solar3D’s management believes that this breakthrough solar cell design can produce 200% the power output of current silicon solar cells.
“Our Director of Technology, Dr. Changwan Son, is leading the effort to fabricate our highly efficient 3D solar cell,” commented Jim Nelson, president and CEO of Solar3D. “We are thrilled to have such close and immediate access to the clean room and lab facilities at UCSB. They have exactly what we need to make our proof-of-concept prototype.”
The proof-of-concept prototype is being fabricated on silicon, the most abundant photovoltaic material in the world. It is scheduled to be completed by late June or early July. This prototype will allow the company’s technology team to determine the optimal conditions for fabrication. Then a second prototype will be built to maximize performance and to prepare the manufacturing facilities for a pilot run which will follow. The pilot run will be a short manufacturing run of about 50,000 units that will prove that the high performance characteristics that are achieved in the lab will hold up in a mass production environment.
The company’s analysis indicates that a typical 17 percent efficient solar cell performs more like a 5 percent efficient cell when light is shining 20 degrees from the side, such as during the morning or evening hours. Due to an innovative wide angle light collection feature, the company estimates that its Solar3D cell can maintain a high 25 percent efficiency for a longer period of time, over the course of a day and year. This translates into 200 percent more power than conventional solar cells and a system payback period that is approximately half the time of the current solar technologies.