BP Solar, IMEC Mono2 silicon cell demonstrates 18% efficiency

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IMEC and BP Solar have demonstrated 18% conversion efficiency for silicon solar cells developed using BP Solar’s Mono2 silicon. IMEC’s processing techniques and BP Solar’s low-cost substrates make it possible to produce a solar cell that is both efficient and low in price.

The production process used by BP Solar for the Mono2 offers a cheaper alternative to the more expensive Czochralski silicon substrates, as it offers low defect densities and high conversion efficiencies with production costs that are comparable to the costs of multicrystalline substrates.

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The production of Mono2 involves three extra processing steps to the standard industrially applied process of full aluminum back surface field, making it plausable to manufacture. This process involves a proprietary growth nucleation process for the casting of ingots used to produce single crystal bricks and wafers whereby preferred crystallographic orientations can be achieved. This feature allows further improvement in cell efficiencies.

Jef Poortmans, Program Director Photovoltaics said, “IMEC’s photovoltaic research aims towards a sharp reduction in production cost and at the same time an increase of the efficiency of crystalline silicon solar cells. Our partners can leverage our advanced processing techniques, to create high-efficiency low-cost solar cells based on their proprietary high-quality materials and know-how.”  

Eric Daniels, BP Solar’s vice president, global technology said, “BP Solar is working to leverage such key technology developments to further reduce the cost of PV electricity. Working with R&D centers such as IMEC and key customers, we are commercializing this technology and seek to provide a better platform for the current and next generation solar cells.  This collaboration with IMEC represents significant progress towards that goal.”

BP Solar’s Mono2 was developed with support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Technologies Pathways Partnership.

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