27 March 2012

Silex selects IQE as epi partner in $2m Australian Solar Institute CPV program

Epiwafer foundry and substrate maker IQE plc of Cardiff, Wales, UK has been selected as a key concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) wafer supplier by Australian CPV firm Silex Systems Ltd as part of a $2m program to develop high-efficiency multi-junction solar cells on low-cost large-area silicon substrates.

Silex Systems received a $2m grant from the Australian Solar Institute (ASI, which was established by the Australian Government in 2009) to support its development of solar cell technology, which has the potential to reduce CPV energy production costs by up to 20%, it is reckoned.

Conducted by Silex’s subsidiary Solar Systems, the program aims to develop, fabricate and test novel next-generation multi-junction solar cells used in the evolving utility-scale CPV solar power industry.

The key differentiator is the development of a new virtual ‘germanium’ wafer-based substrate where a thin layer of Ge is deposited on a silicon wafer. This should reduce the cost and potentially improve the efficiency of multi-junction cells in CPV applications. The new substrates and resultant CPV cell structures will be fully characterized and analysed in the lab and then tested in the field in on-sun equipment.

Solar Systems will supplement the $2m grant by providing about $3m in project funding, with $2m of in-kind support and $1m in cash contributions over the three-year project duration.

Project partner and Silex subsidiary Translucent Inc of Palo Alto, CA, USA, which provides rare-earth-oxide (REO) engineered silicon substrates for low-cost epitaxy, will supply large-area silicon substrate technology for the project, allowing commercialization to be fast tracked.

“Silex Systems’ selection of IQE as a partner for this program clearly demonstrates that we are recognized as a key global player in CPV wafer products for advanced, high-efficiency solar energy generation,” claims IQE’s CPV technology director Dr Andrew Johnson. “This program builds on our advanced capabilities in germanium-on-silicon for CPV applications that we launched in 2010 and complements the range of CPV technologies in which we are active,” he adds.

Other key CPV partners in the program include Boeing-owned solar cell maker Spectrolab Inc of Sylmar, CA, USA and solar cell maker Emcore Corp of Albuquerque, NM, USA for multi-junction cell production facilities.

These partnerships will allow volume production of solar cells, which will be incorporated into Solar Systems’ dense array system to characterize the performance of the new CPV modules at the Bridgewater Test Facility in central Victoria, Australia.

See related items:

IQE raises £10.5m and invests in CPV cell developer Solar Junction

Tags: IQE Silex CPV Multi-junction solar cells

Visit: www.iqep.com

Visit: www.silex.com.au

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