UK-based QuantaSol announced it will exclusively license advanced materials growth technology from the University of Houston to make its manufacturing process simpler and cheaper, while further improving solar cell efficiency.
QuantaSol is an independent designer and manufacturer of strain-balanced quantum-well solar cells. Strain-balanced quantum well solar cells (SB-QWSC), are nanostructures which allow for solar photovoltaic panels to convert solar energy more efficiently, extend the life time of solar cells, and offer better spectral performance.
According to Keith Barnham, CSO and co-founder of QuantaSol, his firm already tested the benefits of using Houston’s dilute nitride materials in the way the company engineers quantum wells in its cells.
“The exclusive worldwide license is a strategic move to ensure we maintain our performance advantage, and we will work with our colleagues in Houston to develop the techniques further in commercial production in 2010,” Barnham said.
QuantaSol combines nanostructures, ‘quantum wells’, of two or more different alloys, in order to obtain synthetic crystals. The crystalline structure can be tuned during manufacturing process to overcome the absorption problems associated with current concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) cell designs. The quantum well effect also greatly enhances the photovoltaic conversion efficiency, as already proven by its recent world record efficiency single junction device. Barnham said QuantaSol will produce highly efficient triple junction CPV devices in 2010.
The use of dilute nitrides will allow QuantaSol to reduce the number of quantum well layers it needs to introduce into each junction, while maintaining or increasing solar efficiency. This further reduces the thickness and manufacturing cost of its production devices.
Chris Shannon, QuantaSol’s CEO, said this is the first major collaboration QuantaSol has announced. “It indicates just how close the company is getting to being able to produce very efficient devices in production quantities. I’m looking forward to the progress we will deliver over the next 12 months.”
An experienced semiconductor, optics and photonics leader, Shannon joined QuantaSol in September in a planned move to structure the company for volume manufacture.
Alex Ignatiev, director, Center for Advanced Materials at the University of Houston, is also excited about the collaboration.
“We are excited to cooperate with QuantaSol in its application of the basic patents of Prof. Alex Freundlich on quantum well solar cells,” Ignatiev said. “These joint efforts will advance solar cell technology and help increase our use of renewable resources."
Freundlich is a Research Professor of Physics with a joint appointment in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Houston. He is the founder and the leader of the Photovoltaics and Nanostructures Laboratories at the Center for Advanced Materials. Freundlich has over twenty years of experience in the development of thin film semiconductors and high efficiency solar cells.
Established in June 2007 as a spin-out of Imperial College London to commercialize the university’s solar cell IP and offer devices to concentrator Photovoltaic (PV) systems developers, QuantaSol has a product development and test laboratory in Kingston-upon-Thames in the UK. The company is funded and backed by the Low Carbon Accelerator (LON:LCA) and Imperial Innovations (LON:IVO), and its strain-balanced quantum-well solar cell is believed to be the highest performing single-junction concentrator cell in the world with the potential to produce very durable multi-junction cells with record operating efficiencies. QuantaSol is ranked 85th in The Guardian's 2009 'Global Cleantech 100' ranking of the world's most promising clean technology companies.
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