Natcore Technology, Inc. has engaged the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) to augment what Natcore has accomplished in its own R&D Center and in the Chinese factory of one of the world’s largest photovoltaic manufacturers. “We’ve been building a head of steam,” says Provini. “We want to capitalize on it. We want to accelerate the delivery of black silicon’s benefits – low cost, higher light absorption, higher efficiency – to the marketplace.” Fraunhofer’s initial work for Natcore will focus on solar cell passivation and efficiency of solar cells with black silicon surfaces. While Natcore has developed and patented novel passivation techniques, Fraunhofer will determine the effect of each of these, for example, on a cell’s performance and production cost.
“Now that our black silicon has been demonstrated to be commercially viable in a solar cell production line, we plan to take quick advantage of this momentum,” says Chuck Provini, president and CEO of Natcore Technology Inc. “We want it to quickly achieve its full potential.”
“In our recent test at a major Chinese solar cell production facility, we achieved an efficiency of 15.7% on our first trial. The technical staff at that facility said they were very impressed with that result. Conventional cells made in a similar industrial process do have efficiencies in the range of 17% to 19%. But considering the results of this first attempt, the Chinese engineers feel that we could easily push our black cell efficiency into the high teens,” says Provini. “We want to overdeliver on that promise. We want black silicon to be all that it can be.”
Dr. David Levy (pictured), Director of Research & Technology, will be Natcore’s Project Manager. Under the terms of the agreement with Fraunhofer, Natcore’s intellectual property will be protected. Based in Freiburg, Germany, Fraunhofer ISE conducts research on the technology needed to supply energy efficiently and on an environmentally sound basis. To this purpose, the Institute develops systems, components, materials and processes in the area of solar energy. The Institute’s work ranges from fundamental scientific research relating to solar energy applications, through the development of production technology and prototypes, to the construction of demonstration systems. The Institute plans, advises and provides know-how and technical facilities as services.