SBIR Phase I: Nano-textured Light Management Layers Fabricated by a Roll-to-Roll (R2R) Nanoimprint Manufacturing Process - Significant Impacts to The Solar Photovoltaic Industry
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will develop and commercialize innovative light management films that will improve the efficiencies, reduce manufacturing costs, and benefit the overall deployment economics of wafer- and film crystalline-silicon (c-Si) solar photovoltaic (PV) cells. These films will be created from inexpensive materials by a scalable roll-to-roll nanoimprint production process. These films are designed to be applied simply to near-standard PV cells in the PV manufacturing facility, at relatively low temperatures. These light management films will combine light-trapping and anti-reflection properties to increase cell efficiencies, while reducing costs below those of existing technologies. This technology will significantly reduce the cost per unit power ($/W) of photovoltaic modules in several PV manufacturing sectors, and will increase in value as the thickness of crystal silicon solar cells decreases over the coming years. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will benefit the overall deployment economics of wafer- and film crystalline-silicon (c-Si) solar photovoltaic cells, therefore benefit the 90% of the current solar PV market. This approach has significant near-term impact because it first addresses one of the largest, mature segments of current PV and mc-Si technology, which will translate to substantial annual cost reduction impact. Because the proposed technology is additive to the nearly-finished cell, it easily integrates within existing process flow at low cost. In the mid-term, the approach has even stronger, enabling impact. As the wafers continue to get thinner, the light trapping becomes increasingly important to keep the module efficiencies at a competitive level thus critically affecting the emergence and adoption of the thin-wafer and film c-Si technologies. The approach is especially critical to those technologies because it is additive and there is no material loss of the already thin wafer or film. It is important to note that increasing module efficiency has the benefit of lowering Balance-of-System costs across system-level installations and thus will create other cost savings.
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