Advanced photovoltaic materials company Sol Voltaics has taken a significant leap towards commercializing its highly anticipated, efficiency-boosting solar technology by completing the manufacture of PV nanowires using its proprietary Aerotaxy process. The breakthrough paves the way for Sol Voltaics to bring its SolFilm PV solutions to market delivering solar module power boosts of up to 50% at very low cost.
“Today’s achievement is the most significant to date for Sol Voltaics,” stated Erik Smith, CEO of Sol Voltaics. “Producing solar nanowires through Aerotaxy is the key to manufacturing our SolFilm. The nanowires are grown such that the top and bottom of the wire have opposite doping profiles. This makes each nanowire a fully functional solar cell, with a pn junction along the length of the wire. Whether used by module manufacturers as a single-junction, high-efficiency, low-cost solution or as a boosting technology, we believe SolFilm will usher in a new age of solar power efficiencies, bringing tremendous value not only to solar manufacturers but also to businesses and consumers who adopt solar.”
Increasing solar efficiencies at economies of scale has dramatically slowed in recent years, with conventional modules seeing an average annual efficiency increase of just 0.2-0.3%. With many emerging efficiency boosting technologies continuing to be prohibitively expensive, unstable or lacking reliability, Sol Voltaics believes SolFilm offers solar panel manufacturers an economically viable bridge with a proven material to generate previously unreachable solar efficiencies.
What is it? And why now?
A lightweight, easy-to-adopt photonic film, SolFilm consists of billions of gallium arsenide (GaAs) nanowires oriented facing the sun. The nanowires, each of which is a complete solar cell, convert high-energy sunlight directly into power. Gallium arsenide, previously seen in space and concentrated solar projects, has long held great potential for the mainstream solar industry. However, up to now, its high fabrication costs have prevented economical fabrication of large solar panels.
Manufacturing nanowires with Aerotaxy dramatically reduces the required amount of GaAs and removes the need for a crystalline support wafer, significantly lowering material costs. With the recent results, Sol Voltaics has taken a giant leap toward delivering an unprecedented increase in power for conventional solar modules while reducing the price of solar energy.
Sol Voltaics, which last year became the first company to successfully align nanowires in a thin film, was recently recognized as ‘Company of the Year’ at the prestigious Rapidus Awards, which recognizes excellence in innovation as well as companies that have the greatest potential for future success. Last year, the company completed a record $17 million investment in new equity, including funding from the Swedish Energy Agency and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.
— Solar Builder magazine