6 January 2010


XsunX completes fully functional hybrid CIGS thin-film PV device

XsunX Inc of Aliso Viejo, CA, USA, which develops and commercializes thin-film photovoltaic (TFPV) solar cell technologies and manufacturing processes, has announced that it has completed a fully functional CIGS (copper indium gallium diselenide) thin-film solar device.

“With this completed sample we have reached a critical milestone in our development process,” says CEO Tom Djokovich. The initial iteration of the device was executed according to the firm's business plan, which outlined a year-end deadline for this stage of development. “This initial achievement illustrates a realistic set of company goals and demonstrates the strength of our relationships with the business and technical expertise that kept us on track,” he adds.

XsunX says it is pioneering a hybrid solar cell technology, developed in partnership with an established equipment supplier to the hard disk drive (HDD) industry. Last September, XsunX and deposition tool supplier Intevac Inc of Santa Clara, CA, USA announced a joint business agreement to co-develop techniques and equipment for the production of processes and equipment for manufacturing CIGS solar cells

Developed for high-rate HDD production, Intevac’s technology focuses on a relatively small deposition area for silicon solar wafers. This has been adapted to produce CIGS solar cells deposited onto stainless-steel substrate with a ‘pseudo square’ configuration.

In addition to being sized to match with existing HDD manufacturing processes, XsunX says that, by maintaining a small deposition area (initially about five-inch squares), its new breed of TFPV manufacturing techniques will produce an appropriately proportioned cell that can be used on existing solar module production lines by manufacturers looking for a direct ‘drop-in’ replacement for traditional silicon cells. Featuring a less brittle and therefore less fragile substrate, the CIGS device has the potential for increased yields over its silicon counterpart, believes the firm. XsunX had previously, only last August, abandoned plans to build a $40m amorphous silicon thin-film solar module manufacturing facility.

XsunX believes that their unique approach also reduces a significant challenge that has faced the CIGS industry in the past: maintaining cell performance while scaling commercial production. “Approaches to mass-scale production of CIGS thin-film cells today introduce processing defects that significantly reduce cell performance,” says chief technology officer Robert Wendt. “Because we are leveraging stationary small-area, high-rate, production technologies and not scaling up to large-area processing, we’re able to strive for laboratory-metric conversion efficiencies,” he adds.

In the next stage of development, XsunX will evaluate technical data concerning performance and conversion efficiency (continuing to fine-tune each cell layer, based on input collected from small-area devices) as well as optimizing engineering designs.

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