Natcore Technology Inc. has dramatically streamlined the fabrication method for its Natcore Foil Cell, allowing for even lower-cost production methods of this highly efficient, all-black solar cell. Natcore’s previous laser processing method has been eliminated and replaced by a carrier selective contact process. This is combined with a foil metallization that can be cheaply made with high-speed roll-processing methods.
Natcore is targeting over 25% real-world efficiency for its eventual production solar cells, roughly a 25% performance improvement over many high-end commercial cells being installed today.
The advantages explained
These advances have maintained, and in fact enhance, the two key advantages of Natcore’s Foil Cell:
1) The elimination of high-cost silver. Natcore’s Foil Cell replaces silver, and its high material costs and complicated production processes, with aluminum foils. At approximately 1/300th the cost of silver, aluminum allows for more metal to be used to maintain conductivity, while also enabling high-speed, high-volume materials handling and processing.
2) The potential for ultra-high efficiencies in an affordable production cell. The silicon heterojunction (SHJ) structure of Natcore’s Foil Cell is the same basic structure used to achieve world-record silicon cell efficiencies of over 26% by major manufacturers in experimental solar cells.
But Natcore’s innovative use of pre-fabricated foils to produce this structure will allow, for the first time, the low-cost mass manufacturing of these ultra-high efficiency, all-back-contact solar cells.
“The solar industry is exceedingly competitive,” notes Brien Lundin, Natcore’s Chairman. “Studies show that they have to achieve at least a 0.6% performance improvement every year to survive, yet they struggle to clear even this low bar. Because Natcore’s Foil Cell will represent a generational leap in performance, we are confident that major industry players will join us in advancing our technology to market.”
Natcore has begun an accelerated development program to produce a prototype with the new process, as well as include production cost and efficiency modeling by independent authorities.
The result will be a functioning prototype proving the essential production process, as well as studies establishing the ultimate affordability and ultra-high-efficiency potential of the Foil Cell. Natcore plans to pursue partnerships with leaders in the industry to commercialize its technology. The production of this prototype will be a key part of this process.
To fund the accelerated prototype program, as well as general corporate expenses, Natcore will conduct a financing, the terms of which have yet to be determined.
— Solar Builder magazine