NanoGram and Tokyo Electron have signed a joint technology agreement focused on the development of thin-film photovoltaic process equipment based on the cleantech company’s proprietary laser reactive deposition (LRD) process for thin crystalline silicon films.
The LRD process (shown at left) has a distinct deposition-rate advantage with the capability to lay down highly uniform amorphous and microcrystalline silicon films significantly faster than conventional TFPV CVD processes, according to NanoGram. The JDA work is also expected to be complementary to NanoGram’s low-cost multicrystalline SilFoil PV module business.
“This extended relationship with TEL is very important and exciting for us because it validates TEL’s initial investment in NanoGram and the potential of our technology,” said Kieran Drain, NanoGram’s president/CEO. “This expanded relationship will help NanoGram accelerate the development of this technology to capture the demand for higher-rate silicon deposition tools.”
“We are very happy with our investment in NanoGram and now this joint technology development even further establishes our relationship and creates new opportunities in key and target markets,” added Mike Yanaguchi, president of TEL Venture Capital, which was one of the investors funding NanoGram’s $32 million equity round earlier this year.
NanoGram has said it expects to commission its SilFoil solar module pilot plant–which it’s building out with the help of OTB Engineering–in second-quarter 2009. The company plans to have 5 MW of capacity online at the Milpitas, CA, facility by the end of 2009.
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TEL entered the solar manufacturing equipment sector in February via a partnership with Sharp to develop plasma CVD tools for TFPV cell production. The company recently said it had reorganized its FPD/PVE business division and is accelerating development efforts in order to have its first systems shipped in early 2009.