Swedish start-up completes manufacture of nanowires using proprietary Aerotaxy process.
Swedish start-up Sol Voltaics has announced a significant step towards commercialising its efficiency-boosting solar technology by completing the manufacture of its GaAs-based PV nanowires using its proprietary Aerotaxy process.
According to the company, this paves the way to bringing its SolFilm PV solutions to market and delivering solar module power boosts of up to 50 percent at very low cost.
Aerotaxy suspends active materials in gases intermingled in a precisely controlled environment. The suspended materials bond to form larger, uniform structures. The process is said to generate nanowires within seconds, at yields comparable with semiconductor industry standards, and can produce them on a continuous basis at comparatively low temperatures.
“Producing solar nanowires through Aerotaxy is the key to manufacturing our SolFilm. The nanowires are grown such that the top and bottom of the wire have opposite doping profiles, ” said stated Erik Smith, CEO of Sol Voltaics. “This makes each nanowire a fully functional solar cell, with a pn junction along the length of the wire. Whether used by module manufacturers as a single-junction, high-efficiency, low-cost solution or as a boosting technology, we believe SolFilm will usher in a new age of solar power efficiencies, bringing tremendous value not only to solar manufacturers but also to businesses and consumers who adopt solar.”
Increasing solar efficiencies at economies of scale has dramatically slowed in recent years, with conventional modules seeing an average annual efficiency increase of just 0.2-0.3 percent. With many emerging efficiency boosting technologies continuing to be prohibitively expensive, unstable or lacking reliability, SolFilm offers solar panel manufacturers an economically viable bridge with a proven material to generate previously unreachable solar efficiencies.
SoIFilm consists of billions of GaAs nanowires oriented facing the sun. The nanowires, each of which is a complete solar cell, convert high-energy sunlight directly into power. While GaAs has been widely used in space and concentrated solar projects, its high fabrication costs have prevented economical fabrication of large solar panels.
Manufacturing nanowires with Aerotaxy is said to dramatically reduce the required amount of GaAs and removes the need for a crystalline support wafer, significantly lowering material costs.
Sol Voltaics, which last year became the first company to successfully align nanowires in a thin film, was recently recognised as ‘Company of the Year’ at the Rapidus Awards, which recognises excellence in innovation as well as companies that have the greatest potential for future success.
Last year, the company completed a $17 million investment in new equity, including funding from the Swedish Energy Agency and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.