Industry Breakthrough: Natcore Produces First Germanium Quantum Dot-Based Solar Cell


X Ray Solar id37265When Natcore experiences a material event, we are required to disseminate that information in the form of a news release.  Our scientific team’s achievement of the first all-back-contact solar cell created with a low-temperature laser process was certainly a material event. In fact, it is transformational not only for Natcore, but for the industry at large….

Scientists working with Natcore Technology Inc. (TSX-V: NXT; NTCXF.PK) in the Rice University laboratories of Prof. Andrew Barron, a Natcore co-founder, have successfully formed a heterojunction solar cell using germanium quantum dots on an ordinary n-type silicon wafer.

Individual germanium quantum dots were coated with silicon dioxide (silica), doped to make them p-type, and then deposited, using Natcore’s liquid phase deposition (LPD) process, on a commercial-grade silicon wafer. The LPD process was developed at Rice and is licensed exclusively to Natcore.

“Very simply put, we used our proprietary process to ‘dope’ silica-coated germanium quantum dots and arrange them in a silica film atop a commercial silicon wafer. We then put contacts on the coated wafer to create a cell, and exposed it to light. We obtained a net power out of the device,” says Dr. Dennis Flood, Natcore’s Chief Technology Officer and also a company co-founder.

Quantum-dot solar cells have the potential to be transformational for terrestrial solar energy, with efficiencies far above anything available commercially today.Rice logo_rice3

The advantage lies in the fact that by carefully controlling the size of the quantum dots, the cell can be “tuned” to capture energy from a specific spectrum of light. The portion of the spectrum not captured passes to the next layer below, where it can then be captured by either a specifically tuned lower quantum-dot cell or even an ordinary silicon cell.

Rice Graphene Stackable id38690

Thus, using “multijunction” or “tandem” cells with two or more layers of quantum-dot cells, much more of the solar spectrum can be converted to energy. In contrast, current single junction solar cells are most efficient for only a limited portion of the solar spectrum.

“To our knowledge, no one else has been able to successfully dope and arrange silicon or germanium quantum dots into layers using a process such as Natcore’s, which appears to be ideal for mass production,” notes Flood.

Tandem solar cells are a proven technology in space applications. The major issue preventing their broad use in earth-based applications has been the need to use exotic semiconducting materials for the upper layers.

The cell created in Dr. Barron’s laboratory for Natcore uses relatively abundant and inexpensive germanium, with the coated quantum dot having been characterized as a “p-type” material.

This heterojunction cell, with p-type quantum dots on an n-type silicon wafer, is an important step toward a cell in which quantum dots are used to form both the p-type and n-type materials. Once this next step is achieved, it will open the door to potential ultra-high-efficiency, multi-junction solar cells.

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“This is a truly exciting time for Natcore and our shareholders,” says Chuck Provini, Natcore’s president and CEO. “We are one step away — n-type quantum dots — from our ultimate goal in our quantum dot solar cell program.

About Natcore Technology

Natcore Technology is focused on using its proprietary nanotechnology discoveries to enable a variety of compelling applications in the solar industry. Specifically, the company is advancing applications in laser processing, black silicon and quantum-dot solar cells to significantly lower the costs and improve the power output of solar cells. With 64 patents (21 granted and 43 pending) Natcore is on the leading edge of solar research.

For more information, please visit : http://www.natcoresolar.com

New flexible solar cell technology in development


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8US-based Natcore Technology with research partner Rice University has developed what it describes as an inorganic flexible thin film solar cell by solution processes.

The production process for the cells has the potential to move to a roll-to-roll manufacturing lineThe device was made using Natcore’s liquid phase deposition (LPD) process. A cadmium/selenium (CdSe) absorber layer was grown onto a back contact substrate based on single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT). LPD was also used to grow a copper/selenium (CuSe) window layer onto which silver contacts were deposited. The resulting solar device shows potential for this process to make a flexible solar cell, free of high temperature semiconductor processing.

With further work the process has potential for roll-to-roll (R2R) production. The company’s R&D centre is situated near a former Kodak R2R photo film plant in Rochester, New York state.

Black silicon

A few years ago Natcore Technologies began attracting interest for its LPD technology in an application for improving the light absorption properties of multi-crystalline silicon cells, known as black silicon solar cells. LPD, developed at Rice University, makes it possible to grow a wide range of inorganic materials on a range of substrates using a room-temperature, environmentally friendly chemical bath.

In the flexible solar cell work nanotubes were used for a back contact embedded into the absorber layer, reducing the diffusion length to the back contact, to potentially lead to higher efficiency, because of a lower percentage of hole electron recombination.

There is potential to make the development compatible with the company’s multi-junction tandem solar cell technology to enable high efficiency extremely thin and flexible solar cells.

Other companies bringing to market high efficiency flexible thin film solar cells include Alta Devices, which has developed a process of growing very thin layers of solar cell materials on gallium arsenide (GaAs) wafers. The California-based company has been working on a GaAs solar cell technology for military and other applications, targeting the commercial unmanned aerial vehicle (UAE) market where very lightweight and efficient solar cells on the wings of craft can extend flight times without adding extra weight.

NREL Expands Natcore’s License To Develop “Black Silicon” Solar Cells


Red Bank, NJ — (August 2, 2012) — By adding new patents to its original license to Natcore Technology Inc. (TSX-V: NXT; NTCXF.PK), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has expanded that license under which Natcore will develop and commercialize a line of black silicon products based on NREL patents.

Black silicon” refers to the apparent color of the surface of a silicon wafer after it has been etched with nano-scale pores; the black color results from the absence of reflected light from the porous wafer surface.

Natcore’s antireflective coating process begins with an uncoated, textured silicon wafer. First, nanoscale pores are etched into the wafer surface, using gold or silver nanoparticles, by submerging the wafer for a few minutes in a liquid solution at room temperature. Next, using the company’s liquid phase deposition (LPD) process, Natcore scientists fill the pores and then over-coat them with silicon dioxide. This combination step both coats and passivates, thereby allowing lower reflectance.

NREL’s most meaningful new black silicon patent relates to the use of copper nanoparticles in the etching process instead of nanoparticles of gold or silver.

“Because copper is less expensive than the precious metals, this new patent could enable Natcore to further reduce the cost of solar cells,” says Natcore President and CEO Chuck Provini. “This could be another step toward our goal of halving the cost and increasing the output of solar cells.”

Natcore scientists have created a black surface on a silicon wafer with an average reflectance in the visible and near-infrared region of the solar spectrum of 0.3%, making it the “blackest” silicon solar cell surface ever recorded. Natcore refers to this surface as “Absolute Black.”

The original NREL-Natcore license was granted in December 2011. Natcore and NREL have also entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to develop commercial prototypes that embody NREL’s black silicon inventions.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC.

Natcore’s Black Silicon Highlighted at Bright Lights Conference


“Game-Changing Technology” Cited as
Reason for Invitation.

Red Bank, NJ – (October 1, 2012) –Natcore Technology Inc. (TSX-V: NXT; NTCXF.PK was recently a featured presenter at the prestigious Bright Lights Conference, Wall Street’s only disruptive technology conference, which focuses exclusively on companies the sponsor believes can transform their industries with game-changing technology.

Natcore was selected as one of 30 public and private companies to present at this invitation-only event. Aimed at making solar power cost-competitive with power generated using fossil fuels, Natcore’s technologies produce solar cells by growing thin film anti-reflective coatings on silicon substrates in a liquid bath at ambient pressures. Natcore believes these cells will be less expensive, more productive, and less environmentally harmful than cells produced using standard industry processes.

Natcore’s presentation centered on the company’s black silicon and tandem solar cell technologies. The conference was attended by institutional and private investors with interest in technology sectors ranging from clean energy to enterprise software to healthcare

“This was the second time in recent months that respected observers have called our technology ‘game-changing,'” says Chuck Provini, Natcore president and CEO. “Lux Research used the same language in a research report.”

The Bright Lights conference is sponsored by MDB Capital Group, an investment banking and institutional research firm focused exclusively on companies possessing or seeking to develop market changing, disruptive technologies and intellectual property. This was their third annual conference.

Natcore Technology is the exclusive licensee, from Rice University, of a remarkable new thin-film growth technology. Although the implications of this discovery for semiconductors and fiber optics are significant and wide-ranging, our technology has two immediate and compelling applications in the solar sector:

  • It could enable silicon solar cell manufacturers to reduce silicon usage by over 60%— thereby dramatically decreasing costs, improving profit margins and boosting throughput.
  • Most importantly, it promises to allow, for the first time, mass manufacturing of super-efficient (30%+) tandem solar cells with double the power output of today’s most efficient devices. Projections show our process has the potential to allow these solar cells to be manufactured at a lower cost than anything currently commercially available.

 

Making Solar Energy Economically Viable

Advocates of alternative energy face an inconvenient, but incontrovertible, fact:

It takes hugely rich government subsidies to make 
solar energy cost-competitive with conventional power.

Most people believe it’s going to be that way for many years to come. We think they’re going to be proven wrong.

That’s because we control a remarkable new thin-film growth process that could completely change the way solar cells are manufactured.

We’re replacing the traditional thermal vacuum processes, such as CVD and PECVD (chemical vapor deposition, plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition, etc.) for making solar cells with our liquid phase deposition (LPD) wet chemistry process.

We think LPD is the future of solar. It is at the core of everything we do. It results in solar cells of higher quality, and is safer, cleaner and less expensive than CVD. That’s why we’re using multiple LPD-based applications to make solar power cost-competitive with conventional power.

 

David Levy Joins Natcore Technology

As Director of Research & Technology

Red Bank, NJ — (September 6, 2012) — Dr. David H. Levy, the recipient of a PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT who invented the atmospheric Spatial Atomic Layer Deposition process (SALD), has joined Natcore Technology Inc. (TSX-V: NXT; NTCXF.PK) as Director of Research & Technology.

 

Natcore Technology Closes $2.5 Million Non-Brokered Private Placement

Red Bank, NJ — (July 20, 2012) —Natcore Technology Inc. (TSX-V: NXT; NTCXF.PK) has today completed a C$2.5 million private placement. The funds will be used to complete optimization of the company’s promising black silicon technology and to build a production version of Natcore’s AR-Box™ processing station. This version would be capable of etching and coating cells with black silicon at a rate of 1,500 to 2,000 cells per hour.

Natcore Technology is the exclusive licensee, from Rice University, of a remarkable new thin-film growth technology. Although the implications of this discovery for semiconductors and fiber optics are significant and wide-ranging, our technology has two immediate and compelling applications in the solar sector:

  • It could enable silicon solar cell manufacturers to reduce silicon usage by over 60%— thereby dramatically decreasing costs, improving profit margins and boosting throughput.
  • Most importantly, it promises to allow, for the first time, mass manufacturing of super-efficient (30%+) tandem solar cells with double the power output of today’s most efficient devices. Projections show our process has the potential to allow these solar cells to be manufactured at a lower cost than anything currently commercially available.

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