2011 Flexible thin-film crystalline-silicon photovoltaics on RABiTS™ Southeast

Award Year 

Flexible Thin-Film Solar Photovoltaics on RABiTS™ came about by combining the intellectual property from two Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories: Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The Rolling Assisted Biaxially Textured Substrate (RABiTS™) technology portfolio, developed at ORNL, is a flexible metal foil that provides a platform for an entire generation of today’s high-temperature superconducting materials and products. NREL has developed a number of (more) techniques and materials to deposit thin layers of crystalline silicon onto various substrates as extremely efficient light-harvesting layers for photovoltaic devices. The combination of these two technologies offers the promise of flexible, highly efficient, low-cost, and durable photovoltaic materials to enable a whole new generation of devices for the solar market. ORNL and NREL teamed to license their technologies to Ampulse Corporation, a venture-backed startup in Golden, Colorado. Silicon is the most heavily researched and best understood material system in the world. It is nontoxic, abundant, and ideal for use in photovoltaic power generation. However, present-day silicon solar materials, while high in energy conversion efficiency, involve production processes that are complex, wasteful, energy-intensive, and not well-suited to large-area applications such as solar panels. Ampulse’s crystalline silicon thin film, a revolutionary photovoltaic technology, optimizes crystalline silicon energy conversion efficiency while lowering manufacturing costs dramatically. Hot-wire chemical vapor deposition, the NREL process for depositing the crystalline silicon thin film, minimizes energy input and eliminates several material-wasting steps, resulting in lower overall cost. (less)