Microcrack Detection in Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-FG02-08ER85107
Agency Tracking Number: 85744
Amount: $99,734.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2008
Solicitation Year: 2008
Solicitation Topic Code: 24 c
Solicitation Number: DE-PS02-07ER07-36
Small Business Information
One Patriots Park, Bedford, MA, 01730
DUNS: 065137978
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 William Neal
 (781) 275-6000
Business Contact
 Michael O'Dougherty
Title: Mr.
Phone: (781) 275-6000
Email: ssullivan@spirecorp.com
Research Institution
Both mono- and multi-crystalline silicon wafers and solar cells occasionally contain microcracks that are difficult or impossible to see with the human eye or even with a vision system. These cracks ¿ which are due to mechanical and thermal stresses during cell fabrication and module assembly, as well as to diurnal thermal cycling after installation ¿ can propagate, resulting in cell breakage and power loss. This project will develop a microcrack detection technique that can be used as an in-process diagnostic method for identifying defective crystalline silicon wafers or solar cells in a production line. In Phase I, the feasibility of the detection technique will be demonstrated. Then, Phase I will design, build, and test a prototype automated microcrack detection system. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: Solar cell and module manufacturers typically use manual visual inspection to find microcracked wafers and cells during production. This process not only is labor intensive but also is not completely effective in finding microcracks. An automated system for detecting and segregating wafers and cells with microcracks would reduce the labor requirements for inspections and rework, increase production yields, and improve module reliability and lifetime.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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