Lab will accelerate development of black silicon solar cells,tandem solar cells, and flexible solar cells.
Red Bank, NJ – (March 2, 2012) -In a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kodak’s Eastman Business Park, Natcore Technology Inc. (TSX-V: NXT; NTCXF.PK) has formally opened its Research and Development Center in Rochester, NY. The Center is located in Building 308 of the Park.
The ceremonial scissors were wielded by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, who was instrumental in attracting Natcore to Rochester; Mike Alt, Director of Eastman Business Park; and Chuck Provini, Natcore President/CEO. The event was also attended by area political leaders and by members of the Rochester business and professional investment communities.
The R&D Center will enable Natcore to accelerate its development of applications based on the company’s proprietary liquid phase deposition (LPD) technology. At present, its most promising applications are flexible solar cells, which would halve the cost of producing solar energy; super-efficient tandem cells, which would double the power output of today’s most efficient commercial solar cells; and black silicon solar cells, which would produce a significantly greater amount of energy (KwHrs) on a daily basis than will the industry’s standard solar cells.
The Natcore facility houses a laboratory/clean room, a gowning room, administration offices and a warehouse. The Class ISO 7 clean room uses positive air pressure and a series of filters to eliminate 90% of environmental pollutants (e.g., dust, airborne microbes, aerosol particles and chemical vapors) from outside air. Employees enter and leave through airlocks , and wear protective clothing such as caps, facemasks, gloves, booties and coveralls.
But the centerpiece is AR-BoxTM, Natcore’s intelligent LPD processing station for growing an antireflective (AR) coating on silicon wafers in the process of manufacturing solar cells. It will be the primary tool in the development and commercialization of Natcore’s new technologies. This SUV-sized device is a research version of the AR-Box production model, which will be fully automated and substantially larger.
Natcore’s R&D Center will be staffed initially by 10-12 people. Two former Kodak employees-chemical engineering technicians Richard Topel, Jr. and Ted Zubil-have already begun working there, and two senior scientists are moving from Natcore’s Ohio State facility. Dr. Dennis Flood, Natcore’s Chief Technology Officer, will continue to interview chemists and chemical engineers, electrical engineers, materials scientists, and technicians to fill the remaining jobs.
The facility was built and equipped at a cost of nearly $1 million.
Natcore had been conducting its research at Ohio State and Rice Universities. That work will now be consolidated in Rochester, although Natcore will continue its funded joint research program with the Barron Group at Rice. New applications generated at Rice will be moved to Rochester for development and commercialization. The Columbus facility will be closed.
“We’re still looking for a site and partners to develop and manufacture flexible solar cells and other applications,” says Provini. “Eastman Business Park is being considered, as are overseas locations. Manufacturers from China, India and Italy sent delegations to visit us in February. Like Kodak, they all have extensive experience in manufacturing roll-to-roll photo film. The final decision in this case will rest on the availability of funding.”
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