Swedish start-up Sol Voltaics AB says it has confirmed the successful alignment and orientation of nanowires in a thin film. The company claims the achievement in solar nanowire manufacturing could help pave the way for photovoltaic module efficiencies of 27% or more.
While showing highly promising characteristics in solar energy generation, nanowires are notoriously difficult to align due to their high aspect ratios and material characteristics, says Sol Voltaics. By controlling nanowire orientation and alignment at centimeter scale on standard-sized wafers, the company says it has taken a major step toward the commercial production of solar films for tandem solar PV modules.
“Today’s announcement marks a significant moment for both Sol Voltaics and the global solar energy industry,” comments Erik Smith, CEO of Sol Voltaics. “Gallium arsenide (GaAs) nanowires have recently come to the forefront as holding great promise for boosting solar module efficiencies well beyond current levels. By aligning nanowires within a membrane, we’ve taken our greatest stride yet toward manufacturing solar nanowire films at the commercial scale. This will enable solar panel manufacturers to greatly enhance the energy-generating capability of their products.”
The latest milestone follows Sol Voltaics’ 2015 announcement that the Fraunhofer-ISE confirmed a world-record PV conversion efficiency of 15.3% for the company’s epitaxially grown GaAs nanowire solar cells. The cells were recently retested by Fraunhofer and showed little or no degradation nearly 18 months after the initial tests, reaffirming the technology’s performance reliability, according to Sol Voltaics.
In addition to the nanowire alignment breakthrough, Sol Voltaics says it has progressed through several generations of development of its Aerotaxy production technology. The patented process allows III-V nanowire solar cell production via a continuous gas phase process.
“Realistically, we have a few remaining hurdles to get over in order to get into commercialization, but we’re very confident we can deliver a truly transformative energy solution,” adds Smith.