Twin Creeks Technologies, a provider of manufacturing equipment for solar and semiconductor makers, has introduced Hyperion, a wafer production system that the company says can reduce the cost of solar modules and semiconductor devices by reducing the amount of silicon and other substrate materials by up to 90%.
Using a technology called Proton Induced Exfoliation (PIE), Hyperion generates monocrystalline wafers that are less than 1/10th the thickness of conventional wafers. With PIE, Hyperion effectively uses atoms as a scalpel. The equipment embeds a uniform layer of high-energy protons (hydrogen ions) into monocrystalline wafers to a depth of up to 20 microns, the company explains.
When heated, this new layer expands, cleaving the top surface from the donor wafer to form an ultra-thin wafer that is otherwise identical to the original. The ultra-thin wafer is then further processed into solar modules or semiconductors. Creating wafers with PIE also eliminates the kerf, or wasted silicon, in solar manufacturing.
Twin Creeks claims that Hyperion will allow manufacturers to produce solar cells for under $0.40/W in commercial-scale volume production facilities with prices declining over time.
Hyperion 3, the third-generation wafer production system designed and built by Twin Creeks, is the company's first commercial offering. The product is now available for shipment.