AccuStrata Inc., based in the University of Maryland's Technology Advancement Program incubator, has been awarded a $150,000 Phase I Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Innovation Research grant – its third in six months.
AccuStrata says it will use the grant to refine its field-tested, patent-protected system for monitoring the effectiveness of thin-film solar panel production in real time, enabling manufacturers to make on-the-fly adjustments and ensure panels' efficiency.
‘Currently, manufacturers have no way of knowing how the films are growing inside their deposition chambers, at least until the entire film is deposited,’ says Dr. George Atanasoff, president of AccuStrata. ‘We are giving the manufacturer the ability to know, in real time, what the quality of the film is as it is deposited and how this will affect the final panel quality.’
The prototype system consists of patented miniature fiber-optic sensors installed at specific locations in existing equipment without disrupting the manufacturing process, along with external hardware and software. The system monitors the spectral reflectance and light scattering of films as they are deposited and calculates film properties and their uniformity over the area of the panel.
SOURCE: AccuStrata Inc.