IMEC announces new partnerships for its solar cell research program

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IMEC has announced new partnerships with solar cell material and equipment suppliers including MEMC Electronic Materials Inc., Leybold Optics Dresden GmbH, Roth & Rau AG, and Mallinckrodt Baker B.V.

The group has concluded joint-development agreements with IMEC in the frame of IMEC’s newly launched wafer-based silicon PV industrial affiliation program (IIAP). As part of this multi-partner R&D program, and with support by the Flemish Government, a solar pilot line will be set up.

This initiative will allow the group to conduct advanced solar cell process development research in a semi-industrial environment, enabling an efficient transfer of the results of this research directly to the industry’s production lines.

“With our IIAP program, we want to set up a research ecosystem with the aim to create innovative processes to fabricate the next generations of silicon solar cells. Researchers from solar cell manufacturers and material and equipment suppliers will work together with IMEC’s solar experts on developing these advanced processes and testing them on our pilot line” said Jef Poortmans, Program Director Solar+ at IMEC.

This announcement also compliments the participation of SCHOTT Solar AG, a leading photovoltaics manufacturer that also recently joined IMEC’s IIAP.

MEMC has made its initial shipments of high lifetime, thin crystalline silicon solar wafers to IMEC while Leybold Optics Dresden GmbH is building an inline sputtering system A550V7 that will be shipped to IMEC in late 2009.

Roth & Rau AG will ship an AK-1000 RIE inline plasma system for PV plasma texturization and PSG removal to IMEC in the same period. Mallinckrodt Baker B.V. will be providing novel fluoride- and non-fluoride-containing chemistry for the development of Hydrogen Fluoride (HF) replacement processes.

To extend its silicon photovoltaics research infrastructure, IMEC will also benefit from the recent decision of the Government of Flanders in Belgium to invest in renewable energies. IMEC will receive a grant of €8.7 million. This grant will be used to set up the pilot line that will allow developing new processes in a semi-industrial environment.

IMEC’s silicon solar cell IIAP concentrates on a sharp reduction in silicon use, increasing cell efficiency and further lowering substantially the cost per Watt peak. The program explores both wafer-based bulk silicon solar cells and epitaxial cells.

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