Production Scale-Up of Advanced Wafer Technology for Drastic Solar Photovoltaics Cost Reduction

Lowering the cost of solar via reduced waste and increased precision

Halo Industries, Inc.

Recipient

Palo Alto, CA

Recipient Location

13th

Senate District

24th

Assembly District

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$4,000,000

Amount Spent

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Active

Project Status

Project Update

In 2022, the team received all remaining, necessary 3rd party production tools as well as qualified all of its internally designed and built systems. One specific in-house designed and built laser tool had stability issues due to the performance of its 3rd party laser system. Through multiple cycles of hardware iteration, the laser system was finally brought in spec in December 2022.

In 2023, the team completed the remaining technical aspects of this project by demonstrating fast, accurate, high quality silicon wafer production at an LRIP scale.

In 2024, the team expects to complete this project and demonstrate the targeted process metrics as well as complete all documentation associated with the project closeout.

The Issue

The silicon solar wafer, which is the base material that individual solar cells are fabricated from, currently accounts for 30% to 40% of the cost of a solar module. Solar wafers are currently created using a diamond-coated steel wire that cuts through cylindrical silicon ingots using a process that results in up to 50% loss of ingot material as silicon saw dust while also wasting significant amounts of water. Additionally, the wafers can vary in thickness by 10-20 micrometers which further increases waste and lowers quality. New solar wafer production methods with less waste and more precision are needed.

Project Innovation

The purpose of this Agreement is to fund the production scale-up and validation of a novel solar photovoltaics wafer manufacturing technology, proven at the full-scale prototype level, to low rate production stage. This technology uses silicon laser processing technology which results in no silicon material loss and nearly five times thinner wafers and five times less variation in thickness. This new process does not require water and reduces the GHG emissions embedded in the wafer manufacturing process by 50% while increasing quality and performance.

Project Goals

Produce a higher quality, lower cost solar wafer at a production-relevant speed.

Project Benefits

This Agreement will scale up and validate a novel solar wafer manufacturing technology to low rate initial production and generate significant long-term benefits in the solar photovoltaics field, including a decrease in costs associated with solar modules; an increase in the efficiency of solar modules; a reduction in the environmental impact of manufacturing solar modules; and an enabling of next-generation solar cell/module architectures.

Lower Costs

Affordability

This project is anticipated to significantly lower the cost of solar PV technology by eliminating the waste associated with solar wafer manufacturing and increasing the quality and precision of the cut.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Andrei Iancu

Match Partners

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Halo Industries

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