In addition, Natcore’s team at Nanotech West at Ohio State University (OSU) has performed a series of process improvement experiments over the past three months, in anticipation of transferring the process to the Natcore China joint venture company. This is a very important step in Natcore’s plan, as it will allow the team in China to come quickly up to speed in exactly replicating the process developed at OSU.
Through these experiments, Natcore’s scientists have confirmed that the within-wafer uniformity, wafer-to-wafer uniformity, and batch-to-batch wafer uniformity all exceed required levels. Moreover, testing has confirmed the consistent nature of the refractive index of the silicon dioxide-based films, as well as the excellent density, hardness and film-thickness control during growth from the LPD process.
Natcore’s team has also developed a prototype engineering design for the scaled process at the Natcore China, and begun design of an automated, manufacturing-scale system. A full equipment and facility requirements listing has been developed, and projected costs for equipment, air handing, water requirements and electrical demand for the scaled process at the joint venture are now being outlined.
“Our ability to show the scalability and consistency of our product wafers over a series of small-scale production batches allows us, for the first time, to meet the sample requests of potential end-users,” notes Chuck Provini, Natcore’s president and CEO. “In combination with our recent testing and development achievements at Ohio State, we continue to make major progress out of the laboratory and toward a production line.”
Natcore’s program at Rice University has also achieved a significant milestone, having successfully manufactured silicon nanocrystals (quantum dots) of sufficient quality and suitable characteristics for use in its tandem solar cell research. This is an important advance toward the Natcore’s goal of developing low-cost, super-efficient silicon cells with efficiencies of over 30%, or about twice the power output of today’s most efficient mass-produced solar cells.
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