AccuStrata Inc., based in the University of Maryland’s Technology Advancement Program incubator, has been awarded a $150,000 phase-one Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Innovation Research grant, its third in six months.
AccuStratasays it will use the grant to refine its field-tested, patent-protectedsystem for monitoring the effectiveness of thin-film solar panelproduction in real time, enabling manufacturers to make on-the-flyadjustments and ensure panels’ efficiency.
"Currently,manufacturers have no way of knowing how the films are growing insidetheir deposition chambers, at least until the entire film isdeposited," says Dr. George Atanasoff, president of AccuStrata. "We aregiving the manufacturer the ability to know, in real time, what thequality of the film is as it is deposited and how this will affect thefinal panel quality."
The prototype system consists of patentedminiature fiber-optic sensors installed at specific locations inexisting equipment without disrupting the manufacturing process, alongwith external hardware and software. The system monitors the spectralreflectance and light scattering of films as they are deposited andcalculates film properties and their uniformity over the area of thepanel.