Dutch research organisation TNO spin-off company SoLayTec has received an investment from Rena and Brabant Development Agency (BOM) to bring its atomic layer deposition (ALD) technology for volume manufacturing of c-Si solar cells to commercialization. Financial details were not disclosed.
Research by the Technical University of Eindhoven has claimed that cell efficiencies can be improved by depositing aluminium oxide as a rear-surface-passivating dielectric layer to passivated emitter and rear cell (PERC)-type crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar cells, resulting in conversion efficiencies of 20.6%.
ALD is being used in the semiconductor industry but has been limited by the slow throughput and subsequent cost of the process, compared to existing deposition techniques (e.g., PVD and PECVD).
The BOM and RENA investment is designed boost the development of a high-volume tool, capable of processing more than 3000 wafers per hour in 2012, enabling the full commercialization of the technology in the solar industry.
It was noted that SoLayTec would be delivering the first ‘process development tool’ from the second quarter of 2011. SoLayTec’s ultrafast spatial ALD technology is designed to transport wafers at atmospheric pressure on a stream of gas, preventing contamination of the reactor, according to the company.
SoLayTec has also been awarded a subsidy from the Peaks in the Delta programme to industrialise the ultrafast ALD technology. Frencken, Lamers High Tech Systems, Bronkhorst, TMC, Van Berlo, Sioux and NTS Mechatronics with co-funding coming from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture & Innovation, the provincial authority of Noord-Brabant and the Eindhoven City Region (SRE), are all involved in the industrialization program.
Institutes that are working on ALD include TU Eindhoven, imec, ISFH, and Fraunhofer ISE.