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19 March 2008


Sunovia and EPIR collaborating with ETH Zurich on CdTe solar cells

Sunovia Energy Technologies Inc of Sarasota, FL, USA and infrared sensor and imaging firm EPIR Technologies Inc of Bolingbrook, IL, USA say that they are collaborating with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH Zurich) on the further development of cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells.

The collaboration provides the firms with key experience and knowledge related to solar cell development and manufacturing, and should expedite product development efforts, specifically involving the development of CdTe thin-film solar cells including the use of flexible plastic substrates.

ETH Zurich has previously demonstrated an efficiency of 12.4% for a CdTe-based solar cell grown using a simple vacuum deposition method, as well as establishing record conversion efficiency of 14.1% for flexible copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) solar cells.

Flexible substrates allow the transportation and deployment of solar cells from rolls, reducing shipping and installation costs. Flexible solar cells are also less susceptible to damage than the present-day solar module technology that employs fragile and heavy glass protective sheets.

The collaboration is strengthened by additional R&D in infrared (IR) detection, in which ETH Zurich will grow and characterize II-VI lead tin selenide (PbSnSe) layers on silicon substrates. ETH Zurich’s efforts are led by Dr. Hans Zogg, head of the Thin Film Physics Group, which contains both IR and solar cell technology subgroups. The solar cell projects are led by professor Ayodhya Nath Tiwari.

“The combination of EPIR, Sunovia and ETH Zurich creates a world-class team with unparalleled II-VI semiconductor experience and talent,” says Dr Chris Grein, EPIR’s VP for R&D.

At the end of January, Sunovia and EPIR announced an exclusive partnership to commercialize solar and IR technologies for the renewable energy and night-vision markets. Also, in mid-February the firms strengthened their partnership with an agreement that provides each with 10% equity ownership in the other, including equal ownership of any developed intellectual property (patents, copyrights, unique processes, etc). Sunovia also has the exclusive marketing rights to all products, technologies and intellectual properties developed at the facility.

Most recently, last week, Sunovia and EPIR announced completion of the Phase I expansion at EPIR’s Electro-Optic manufacturing facilities in Bolingbrook, west of Chicago (for the manufacture of solar modules, IR detectors and components, and biosensor-decontamination devices).

The firms say that completion of Phase I is a significant step in their work to manufacture CdTe-based solar cells as well as CdTe and mercury cadmium telluride (HgCdTe) IR detectors and components. More than $25m has been invested in R&D and in the facility, which includes a 2000 square foot cleanroom for manufacturing Electro-Optic products. The firms also have access to related facilities at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, MD and the Army’s Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate at Belvoir, VA.

See related items:

Sunovia and EPIR complete Phase I solar cell and IR plant

Sunovia establishes infrared division

Sunovia and EPIR win NASA contract for II-VI encapsulated PV cells

Search: Solar cells II-VI MCT HgCdTe CdTe IR MBE