SBIR Phase II:Real time optical control system for thin film solar cell manufacturing
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project is directed at developing a real time process control system for improving manufacturing of thin film products such as thin film solar panels, solid state lighting, touch screen displays, optics and telecommunications. Photovoltaics are a vital component of the renewable energy mix but they need to be more efficient to be competitive against existing fossil fuel approaches. The system will be able to dynamically control and correct the film deposition process in order to keep each product within its targeted specification, reducing and even eliminating rejects. It allows manufacturing of more consistent and uniform solar panels resulting in higher solar conversion efficiency, reduced cost and increased manufacturing yield. The objective of this Phase II is to further develop and improve the prototype system developed under Phase I and IB and validate it for two most common thin film solar panel manufacturing configurations. This project will complete the hardware / software development and validation for monitoring film growth for amorphous silicon solar panel manufacturing. Phase II will remove technical risk allowing fast commercialization of the monitoring system. Additional development will be performed to finalize the control component of the system.
The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to advance the scientific understanding of how thin films grow during deposition. It will help thin film solar panel manufacturers to develop higher quality products. The system will improve production accuracy, reduce production flaws and make the manufacturing process less susceptible to process parameter drifts and errors,especially for advanced thin-film products. The commercial impact of the project is that manufacturers will (i) increase solar panel efficiency and manufacturing yield, (ii) reduce manufacturing cost, and (iii) increase revenue and profit. The proposed technology provides an innovative platform solution that can be further improved in order to achieve waste-free thin film manufacturing with little human interaction. This system, if adopted by only 30% of the thin film manufacturers will result in roughly $1 billion in savings by 2015. The societal impact of the project is to help make solar panels a competitive source of energy against existing fossil fuel approaches. The system will allow manufacturers to meet the market demand for lower cost solar products which will accelerate PV adoption worldwide thus helping to reduce global warming and reduce our dependence on oil.
Small Business Information at Submission:
387 Technology Drive University of Maryland TAP College Park, MD 20742
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