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EpiWafer yields 20% efficiency on solar cells

Posted: 18 Sep 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Fraunhofer ISE  solar cell  EpiWafer  silicon  NexWafe 

In order to bring the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE's kerfless EpiWafer technology to the market and rapid commercialisation, NexWafe GmbH was spun out of the institute. In the EpiWafer technology, a thick crystalline silicon layer is epitaxially deposited and subsequently detached after growth to produce a freestanding wafer of standard thickness.

Due to the radical changes in the manufacturing value chain, EpiWafers can be produced at an appreciably lower cost compared to the traditional wafer manufacturing process. The EpiWafer is a direct substitute for conventional n- or p-doped silicon mono-crystalline wafers.

Now, Fraunhofer ISE reports on substantial progress in the development of its EpiWafers, which are seen as a drop-in replacement for conventional Cz wafers. Fraunhofer ISE's research team in co-operation with NexWafe has optimised all production steps for the EpiWafer. Analysis of the n-doped EpiWafers shows that mean minority carrier lifetimes are above 1000μs, indicating the same quality as n-type Cz wafers. Solar cells processed on these EpiWafers yield 20 per cent efficiency, independently confirmed at the Fraunhofer ISE CalLab. "I am elated about this fantastic result," said Stefan Janz, head of the department of silicon materials, Fraunhofer ISE. "This success attests to our fast progress made in only a few months since focusing on EpiWafers." The solar cells achieve a short-circuit current of 39.6mA/cm2, a world-record value for epitaxially grown silicon solar cells.

Epitaxial wafer

Epitaxial wafer (right) detached from re-usable seed wafer (left). Fraunhofer ISE

Stefan Reber, CEO of NexWafe, is also very excited about the results: "These values demonstrate that our EpiWafer technology is a game-changing technology. It accelerates the shift of the market towards high efficiency modules by providing high quality drop-in mono-crystalline EpiWafers at a very competitive price."

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