Most of the silicon used in crystalline photovoltaics is createdusing high-temperatures and low-pressure. However, Innovalight hasbucked the trend using proprietary nano-materials. It has developed asilicon ink that can increase the efficiency of crystallinephotovoltaics. Its newest silicon ink, still under development, won aDepartment of Energy SunShot Initiative award, worth $3.4 million, tospeed development.
The thick, brownish ink is composed of silicon nano-particles in anenvironmentally friendly blend of chemicals, according to the company.And it can be deposited with standard industrial screen printers.
“In fact, a lower viscosity material has been developed for use with inkjet printing equipment,” the company said.
Some major solar manufacturers including JA Solar, Yingli, Solarfun, JinkoSolar and Motech useInnovalight’s first generation silicon ink to help boost their products’ efficiency.
But the $3.4 million SunShot award will help it bring a second type of solar ink to market.
“With this new award, Innovalight will be developing advanced p- andn-type silicon ink technologies that will provide further efficiencyenhancements,” said DOE spokesperson Christina Kielich.
The DOE decided to grant the award because the company’s technology has already lowered the cost of silicon photovoltaics.
“Innovalight’s high-efficiency silicon ink deposition process notonly improves the performance of solar cells, but also lowersmanufacturing costs by as much as 20 percent,” Kielich said. “A dramatic improvement such as this can help realize DOE’s SunShot Initiative goal of making solar technologies cost-competitive with other forms ofenergy by the end of the decade.”
The company had won a previous $3 million DOE award In April 2009, through its PV Incubator program, which helps bring new solar technologies to market. When the company applied for that program in 2008, it hadvirtually no production capacity, according to Kielich. At that time, it estimated its 2012 capacity would support 200 megawatts ofphotovoltaics.
“In 2011, Innovalight will be able to increase production capacity to support over 2,000 MW of solar cells using its silicon ink,” she said.“The latest award to Innovalight is part of the PV Supply Chain awardsoriginally announced on Feb. 9th, 2011. Other awardees at that timeincluded 1366 Technologies, 3M, PPG Industries, and VarianSemiconductor.”
But Innovalight wasn’t named as a winner at that time.
“DOE selected Innovalight as an alternate under its High-ImpactSupply Chain and Cross-Cutting Technologies FOA [i.e., fundingopportunity announcement] on Feb. 4. Since then, DOE has determined that it is able to move forward with negotiating this award,” she said.
The funding was enabled when the final agreement on the fiscal year2011 budget was passed by Congress and the White House in April 2011,according to Kielich.
Image courtesy of Innovalight of their Silicon Ink.