New Jersey-based Natcore Technologies Inc. has engaged the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) to assist the company in its efforts to develop its ‘black silicon’ technology for photovoltaic cells.
Fraunhofer ISE's initial work for Natcore will focus on solar cell passivation and efficiency of solar cells with black silicon surfaces. Natcore says it wants to determine the performance and production cost of cells produced using its techniques.
Natcore says its laser etching technology for black silicon is intended to be part of a low-temperature manufacturing process that could increase solar cell efficiencies while eliminating much of the toxic waste generated in solar cell manufacturing.
‘We want to accelerate the delivery of black silicon's benefits – low cost, higher light absorption, higher efficiency – to the marketplace,’ says Chuck Provini, president and CEO of Natcore.
In May, Natcore announced it had partnered with a Chinese cell manufacturer to process its black silicon PV cells on a commercial production line. Provini says the test runs produced solar cells with efficiencies of 15.7% as compared with conventional cells with efficiencies in the range of 17% to 19%. However, Provini says it is possible to improve efficiencies into the ‘high teens’ with a focused research and development effort.
‘Now that our black silicon has been demonstrated to be commercially viable in a solar cell production line, we plan to take quick advantage of this momentum,’ Provini says.
Under the terms of the agreement with Fraunhofer, Natcore's intellectual property will be protected.