Solar Cell Developer Moving Toward Mass Production

John Davis

The developer of a three-dimensional solar cell says it will be using the same low-cost processes for semiconductors to help them produce their energy cell on a mass scale.

California-based Solar3D, who I profiled back in November, has announced it will use the semiconductor processes to build its unique solar cell design that traps sunlight inside micro-photovoltaic structures where photons bounce around until they are converted into electrons:

Jim Nelson, CEO of Solar3D, commented, “In the solar industry, it is not enough to have high efficiency, you must also be low cost. We started our company with the mantra of Breakthrough Product, Common Manufacturing, and I am pleased to report that we are right on track.”

Nelson continued, “The key to the successful low cost fabrication of our 3D solar cell is that we can use existing semiconductor manufacturing facilities and machines. This is important for two reasons:

1. The semiconductor manufacturing technology we are designing for was perfected in the 1990s. So, there will be no significant operational bugs in the machines or the processes, and the technology has only gotten better over time.

2. Because of our ability to use existing machines and facilities, there will be little or no new need to invent new machines or construct new facilities just to make our 3D solar cell.

Solar3D officials compare the photovoltaic solar cell to a diode, the most basic building block of modern day microprocessors and electronics. And that means the cells could be made in those same high-speed semiconductor manufacturing facilities.