Natcore Technology revealed that it had received its first intelligent processing station, the AR-Box, which will be used for the liquid phase deposition (LPD) process to grow antireflective (AR) coatings on silicon wafers. Housed at the company’s R&D center in the Kodak Eastman Business Park in New York, installation and testing are anticipated to be completed by September 9.
Chuck Provini, president and CEO of Natcore, Mike Alt, Kodak park’s director and David Tennity, Kodak project manager met with local contractors last week to discuss bids for electrical, plumbing and ductwork, which will be needed to make the AR-Box functional. The LPD tool is a completely enclosed system that houses a pre-clean subsystem. Described to be the size of an SUV, the tool has an LPD process subsystem that uses Natcore’s latest sizing and process control input and a drying module.
Natcore advised that the AR-Box can identify and eliminate undesired invisible particles to ensure uniformity, consistency and a lack of contamination form suspended matter. The tool has a cooling and heating option, which keeps the chemical bath in the rage of +/-0.5° C. The AR-Box is said to additionally include a module that passivates the surface of “black silicon” solar cells, which is said to diminish the cell’s average reflectivity to less than 1.5% and can potentially increase power output.
“AR-Box #1 will be used for our own R&D efforts,” says Provini. “It will allow us to craft precise formulas for each customer. That's a necessity because solar cell production differs from plant to plant. We have received strong interest from companies in China, Italy, and the U.S. that could lead to production of four additional machines. That would represent significant revenue for Natcore. We would profit from licensing fees, and from sales of the machines and the chemicals that will be used to recharge them. We hope to close at least two of these sales by the end of the year.”
The company maintains that the tool is able to monitor the coating process and measure the thickness of the AR coating on a wafer while it is immersed in a chemical bath. It can then change the composition and duration of the bath so that the solar cells can be produced with ease and better precision.