A special message from the President of Natcore
Click here to visit the Natcore website and please leave any questions int he comment section for us to address with Chuck later this week.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,” said Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher.
He could have been talking about our quest for the Ultimate Solar Cell, except that our steps come in the form of technological breakthroughs.
If you’ve been following us, you may know of our breakthroughs. And perhaps you’ve noticed that they’re related; they’re not a group of fragmented discoveries. Like Lao Tzu’s journey, each of our steps logically comes after the ones that preceded it, and each step leads to the one that follow it.
The Ultimate Solar Cell will be one that is lowest in cost, highest in efficiency and safest for the environment. By now, our earlier steps toward that goal may be familiar to you. There was our liquid phase deposition (LPD) patent…our acquisition of an exclusive black silicon license… our use of LPD to passivate black silicon solar cells…our production of the world’s first black silicon solar cell using a scalable process. (I’ve linked these developments to news releases so that you can get more details on each breakthrough at your leisure.)
More recently, Natcore scientists have taken a fresh look on how to make electrical contacts to a solar cell. They developed a proprietary laser process, and then used it to invent commercially viable methods to place contacts on the back of solar cells. In October 2014, Natcore made the first laser-processed, all low-temperature solar cell; this was followed in January 2015 by the first all-back-contact solar cells using this low-temperature laser processing.
These discoveries greatly simplified the back contact process, also greatly reducing manufacturing costs. We then looked for the best platform for this technology; it appeared to be utilizing the “HIT” (heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer) solar cell structure. The HIT cell structure was first used by Panasonic and Sharp, and it achieved the highest efficiencies recorded, in excess of 25%. The problem with the HIT cell was that it also increased the cost to manufacture cells by as much as 50%. Our process dramatically reduced that cost, when in March 2015, we made the first laser-processed back contact HIT-structure solar cell.
Since our technology does not require the high conductivity that is needed in a traditional cell, we are also able to replace silver with a much less expensive aluminum.
So you can see, each of these individual achievements were stepping-stones to the final laser processed low-temperature back contact HIT cell with aluminum replacing silver.
There is another significant benefit of this Natcore cell; traditional cells lose energy when they are placed into a module or solar panel. Take a very sophisticated solar cell, and in essence, put it into a glass box or solar panel. Power is lost for a variety of reasons, such as heat, inefficiencies in stringing the cells together, etc. This is referred to as ‘cell-to-module’ energy loss. When our back contact cell is introduced to certain module technologies such as the one utilized by our joint development partner, Eurotron, this cell-to-module energy loss is eliminated. That means in addition to higher efficiencies of the cell, there is an additional 6%-10% power availability because of the elimination of the cell-to-module energy loss.
Our scientific team has crafted a truly unique process that we feel will place us as leaders in solar technology. Everything we have done is commercially viable and not merely a science project in a laboratory or university environment.
I hope this helps clarify the last few announcements and shows how they are not fragmented events but the result of a well thought out plan with very methodical and disciplined steps to bring a truly game changing product to the industry.