SBIR Phase I: Real time optical control system for thin film solar cell manufacturing
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I research project relates to a real-time optical control system in the manufacture of next generation thin film solar cells and panels. The proposed system improves thin film solar cell manufacturing by improving the quality of the individual solar cells and panels. It allows manufacturing of more consistent and uniform products resulting in higher solar conversion efficiency and manufacturing yield. The proposed system uses patented miniature fiber optic sensors, installed at many locations in the film deposition chambers. They monitor different spots on the substrate and obtain real time measurements of film properties. The system compares the measured with the targeted values and provides immediate correction, improving film uniformity and narrowing material property distribution. It returns most of the products to their targeted specification, which would otherwise be rejected. This proposal will reduce waste and improve the manufacturing yield and the conversion efficiency of thin film solar cells and panels. It has specific benefits for the large-size solar panels, which are manufactured at higher cost today due to insufficient manufacturing yield. The proposed technology will reduce the time it takes for solar panels to reach grid parity with traditional energy sources. The proposed technology will also facilitate the development of numerous other applications for next generation thin film based products such as photonic crystals, nanotechnology, meta-materials, multi-junction solar cells, printing and counterfeiting control. This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).
Small Business Information at Submission:
387 Technology Drive University of Maryland TAP College Park, MD 20742
Number of Employees: