Natcore Technology ready to license PV cell structure
US company Natcore Technology (CVE:NXT) said today it will start soliciting license agreements for a new lower-cost, high-efficiency solar cell structure.
Scientists at the firm’s Rochester R&D Center have developed the new cell as an advancement of the silicon heterojunction (SHJ) concept. Natcore says the new structure could bring the solar industry much closer to high-efficiency cells, while it can also significantly reduce manufacturing costs by eliminating silver from the equation.
The new photovoltaic (PV) cell is an all-back-contact heterojunction structure that combines thin amorphous silicon layers with a crystalline silicon wafer. It can be manufactured only with Natcore's laser processing technology.
The structure “has the potential” to eliminate silver, a material accounting for some 30% of a silicon solar cell’s cost, from mass-manufactured cells. In addition, Natcore's laser processing techniques can further simplify the production process so the company is eying costs-per-watt “far lower than any solar cells available today”.
Natcore's early first-generation research cells with the new structure have already achieved efficiencies near today's common commercial PV cells. The team of scientists is making further refinements and assessing the use of better materials to boost the efficiency further.
“All of our tests to date demonstrate that we're on the optimum path toward very high efficiencies with manufacturing solutions that are low cost and do not require complex process equipment,” said Natcore's head of Research and Technology, David Levy.
The company’s scientists are now working on a second-generation no-silver structure.