Posts Tagged ‘solar cells’

Tom Gutierrez (GTAT CEO) 2/28/13 During Q4 2012 Q&A

And quite honestly, I don’t see anybody that’s anywhere near competing with us right now, on next-generation technologies that we’re developing. The Hyperion, nobody’s got that.

I love the Q&A section of each quarterly GTAT conference call because TG gets excited at times and gives out a ton of information.  Additionally, modesty is not a appropriate adjective to describe TG when he talks candidly about GT’s disruptive technology and technical prowess.

In the spirit of sharing I have tracked down a three videos related to Hyperion.  Two interviews with their CEO (very interesting information) and a third video of the Hyperion 3 in action.  This technology is absolutely BAD ASS and will disrupt every industry GT enters and create markets where there isn’t one today.

Video Interview with Twin Creeks former CEO

Interview with Twin Creeks former CEO (very technical and awesome cost info) He at 4:18 he gets into the costs to make it and how the entire process will be transformed by this product.

This video walks through the high level of the technology and shows the mechanical arms pulling out wafers that were exfoliated in just 2 minutes.  The footage and screen shots with comments taking from the video are also 2 years old.

Hyperion in Action and Overview

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Twin Creek’s Hyperion 3 Press Release from March 2012 is very revealing and might I add not a bad patented technology for GTAT to acquire for a mere $10m in 2012!  A single Hyperion 3 system is claimed to process over 1.5 million thin wafers per year, enough for more than 5MW worth of solar cells.

Twin Creeks Technologies, a pioneer in next-generation manufacturing equipment for solar and semiconductor makers, today announced Hyperion: a wafer production system that dramatically reduces the cost of solar modules and semiconductor devices by reducing the amount of silicon and other substrate materials by up to 90 percent.

The key to Hyperion is thinness. Taking advantage of a technology called Proton Induced Exfoliation (PIE), Hyperion generates monocrystalline wafers that are less than 1/10th the thickness of conventional wafers. With thin wafers, manufacturers can profitably produce solar cells and other devices well below today’s best-in-class cost structure. Twin Creeks estimates that Hyperion will permit manufacturers to produce solar cells for under 40 cents a watt in commercial-scale volume production facilities with prices declining over time.

“The thickness of wafers today is based on wafer slicing capabilities and the handling requirements for device processing. In reality, only the very top layer of a substrate plays an active role in generating energy or transmitting signals — the rest is wasted,” said Dr. Siva Sivaram, CEO of Twin Creeks. “By eliminating excess material, we will help solar manufacturers produce modules that compete with grid power and open up new markets for chip makers.”

With PIE, Hyperion effectively uses atoms as a scalpel. Hyperion embeds a uniform layer of high-energy protons, which are hydrogen ions, into monocrystalline wafers to a depth of up to 20 microns. When heated, this new layer expands, cleaving the top surface from the donor wafer to form an ultra-thin wafer that is otherwise identical to the original. The ultra-thin wafer is then further processed into solar modules or semiconductors. Creating wafers with PIE also eliminates the kerf, or wasted silicon, in solar manufacturing.

Hyperion is compatible with a wide variety of monocrystalline wafers — including germanium (used to make concentrated PV solar modules), gallium nitride, sapphire and silicon carbide (LEDs and power electronics). Twin Creeks has initially concentrated on helping manufacturers of crystalline silicon solar cells because of the urgent need to cut the cost of solar power. The lessons learned will further allow manufacturers to employ Hyperion for other applications, such as CMOS sensors.

By reducing the amount of silicon required in solar modules by 90 percent, Hyperion makes the entire silicon wafer value chain more efficient and dramatically lowers the capital needs of its customers. Manufacturers don’t need as many saws, furnaces and crystal pullers to make the same amount of wafers.

Hyperion improves the monocrystalline silicon value proposition in other ways as well. In addition to being much lighter than conventional solar cells, cells produced with Hyperion wafers are also bendable, allowing manufacturers to consider flexible packaging and encapsulants for modules instead of glass. Additional layers of photovoltaic material can be added to wafers as well: Twin Creeks has produced heterojunction solar cells, which combine crystalline and amorphous silicon, in its development center. Over time, the combination of lower cost and lighter packaging will allow Twin Creeks customers to expand into other markets such as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) and consumer electronics.

I hope you all enjoyed the 1st shade of TG and the in-depth review of Hyperion; the next game changing, revolutionary and transformational technology that will bend the adoption and cost curve across every market it touches and open the door to hundreds of new markets and product applications…..

It’s amazing what you can learn by looking at the past and then realizing where you are in the present and where you will be in the future.

My review of the past indicates that we have not arrived at the future. The present is a lot grander than anyone can understand today.

In the future we will learn what we missed from the past. We will learn that clues from the past were absolutely a sign of things to come.

~The Obscure Analyst 2/28/14

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A few days ago I gave everyone a spoiler of GT’s recent solar cell development plans as laid out from their recent patents along with my interpretation of the patent.  I have now found a solar cell stacking method that could revolutionize modern solar day efficiency ratings when used in partnership with GT’s super slim solar cell developments.

A recent article published on 2/22/14 by the economist  details some ground breaking work that has emerged out of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

 

John Rogers, of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, is one. The cells he has devised (and which are being made, packaged into panels and deployed in pilot projects by Semprius, a firm based in North Carolina) are indeed better. By themselves, he told this year’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, they convert 42.5% of sunlight. Even when surrounded by the paraphernalia of a panel they manage 35%. Suitably tweaked, Dr Rogers reckons, their efficiency could rise to 50%. Their secret is that they are actually not one cell, but four, stacked one on top of another.

 

Below is my previous detail of GT management’s cliff hanger from Monday’s  conference call which relates directly to Hyperion and Solar Cells:

we have a deployed a new technology that we expect will significantly impact the economics of producing solar cells and modules. This technology was developed and comes out of a research operation we established in the Bay Area over a year ago to focus on advancing the state of the art and the design and assembly of solar cells and modules. We look forward to talking with you about this development on our March ‘14 webcast.

Well here is your spoiler alert:  Hyperion is going to be  a “disruptive technology” and a “game changer” that can and will be applied across all of GTAT’s platforms in the foreseeable future and for the foreseeable future.   During the March 14, 2014 webcast GT management will most certainly focus some of it’s attention on the design and assembly of solar cells and modules.  I’ve done my best to translate the patents so everyone can understand the key takeaway.  I’m sure the sci-fi team at GT Advanced Technologies will give a cleaner explanation but this is my best shot!  Essentially GT has patented a new process that likely creates the lowest cost, thinnest and most efficient solar cell technology on the market   The process to create this amazing innovation begins by leverage GT’s Hyperion technology (which is protected by over 50 patents) to fire hydrogen ions against a solar cell to create super thin solar cells that can be used in PV technology (solar panel).   The super thin solar cells are more efficient due to design (cutting angle) allowing them to improve efficiency.  They are lower cost due to Hyperion exfoliating abilities which allow for one of if not the thinnest solar cell produced in the industry (I hope the analysts ask if TG doesn’t tell us anyways).  Further cost reductions are found because the Hyperion method of exfoliating the solar cells reduces waste that results from through traditional “kerf” methods.

Obscure Analyst’s Spoiler Alert Takeaway: GTAT may have just come up the most efficient solar cells available on the market today due to the degree of the cut plane of the solar cells which allows for more light absorption than traditional methods.  The cost of the solar cells is greatly reduced because Hyperion allows up to a 2 for 1 benefit on thinness (current benefit might be 1.75 to 1) but it was 2:1 when GTAT acquired Twin Creeks in 2012.   Lastly, the method of using Hyperion versus traditional kerf methods of cutting solar cells will greatly reduce the amount waste, which will lead to further cost savings.  If I had to put names on who they are partnering with I would go with Yingli Green Energy or Trina Solar, who finished 2013 as #1 and #2 in PV supply.  Below are two of GTAT’s  key patents related to the growth and bonding of thin lamina.

 
EPITAXIAL GROWTH ON THIN LAMINA 

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] Sivaram et al., U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/026,530, “Method to Form a Photovoltaic Cell Comprising a Thin Lamina,” filed Feb. 5, 2008, owned by the assignee of the present invention and hereby incorporated by reference, describes fabrication of a photovoltaic cell comprising a thin semiconductor lamina formed of non-deposited semiconductor material. Using the methods of Sivaram et al., photovoltaic cells, rather than being formed from sliced wafers, are formed of thin semiconductor laminae without wasting silicon through kerf loss or by fabrication of an unnecessarily thick cell, thus reducing cost. The same donor wafer can be reused to form multiple laminae, further reducing cost, and may be resold after exfoliation of multiple laminae for some other use.

[0002] Referring to FIG. 1A, in embodiments of Sivaram et al., a semiconductor donor wafer 20 is implanted through first surface 10 with one or more species of gas ions, for example hydrogen and/or helium ions. The implanted ions define a cleave plane 30 within the semiconductor donor wafer. As shown in FIG. 1B, donor wafer 20 is affixed at a first surface 10 to receiver 60. Cleaving is most easily achieved by heating, for example to temperatures of 500 degrees C. or more. Referring to FIG. 1C, lamina 40 is heated and cleaves, or exfoliates, from donor wafer 20 at cleave plane 30, creating second surface 62. It has been found that the step of implanting to define the cleave plane may cause damage to the crystalline lattice of the monocrystalline donor wafer. This damage, if unrepaired, may impair cell efficiency. A relatively high-temperature anneal, for example at 900 degrees C., 950 degrees C., or more, will repair most implant damage in the body of the lamina.

[0003] In embodiments of Sivaram et al., additional processing before and after the cleaving step forms a photovoltaic cell comprising semiconductor lamina 40, which is between about 0.2 and about 100 microns thick. In other embodiments of Sivaram et al., lamina 40 may be, for example, between about 0.2-50 microns thick, between about 1-20 microns thick, between about 1-10 microns thick, between about 4-20 microns thick, or between about 5-15 microns thick, though any thickness within the named range is possible. FIG. 1D shows the structure inverted, with receiver 60 at the bottom, as during operation in some embodiments of Sivaram. Receiver 60 may be a discrete receiver element having a maximum width no more than 50 percent greater than that of donor wafer 20, and preferably about the same width, as described in Herner, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/057,265, “Method to Form a Photovoltaic Cell Comprising a Thin Lamina Bonded to a Discrete Receiver Element,” filed on Mar. 27, 2008, owned by the assignee of the present application and hereby incorporated by reference. Alternatively, a plurality of donor wafers may be affixed to a single, larger receiver, and a lamina cleaved from each donor wafer.

0004] In summary, the primary stages of producing a lamina are ion implantation, exfoliation (cleaving the lamina from the donor wafer), and annealing (to repair defects in the lamina).


BONDING OF THIN LAMINA

BACKGROUND

[0002] Sivaram et al., U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/026,530, “Method to Form a Photovoltaic Cell Comprising a Thin Lamina,” filed Feb. 5, 2008, and issued as U.S. Pat. No. 8,481,845, owned by the assignee of the present disclosure and hereby incorporated by reference, describes fabrication of a photovoltaic cell comprising a thin semiconductor lamina formed of non-deposited semiconductor material. Using the methods of Sivaram et al., and others, photovoltaic cells and other electronic devices, rather than being formed from sliced wafers, are formed of thin semiconductor laminae without wasting silicon through kerf loss or by fabrication of an unnecessarily thick cell, thus reducing cost. The same donor wafer can be reused to form multiple laminae, further reducing cost, and may be resold after exfoliation of multiple laminae for some other use. Methods are needed for handling thin lamina in order to process them into electronic devices.

SUMMARY

[0003] Methods and apparatus are provided for bonding a thin lamina to a carrier, the methods may comprise providing a thin lamina wherein the lamina has a first side and a second side and wherein the first side of the lamina is separably contacted to a support plate; providing a first carrier having a first side and a second side and wherein the first side comprises a layer of adhesive material; contacting the second side of the thin lamina to the first side of the first carrier; fixing the lamina to the first carrier wherein the fixing comprises applying a first application of heat and a first application of pressure to a portion of the lamina and the first carrier; removing the support plate; applying a second application of heat and a second application of pressure to the lamina and the first carrier wherein the second application of heat and the second application pressure promotes an adhesive bond between the lamina and the first carrier and wherein the second application of pressure comprises moving the lamina, the first carrier and the cover sheet between a pair of rollers.

Two additional relevant patents are below

Photovoltaic Cell Comprising A Thin Lamina Having A Rear Junction And Method Of Making 
ASYMMETRIC SURFACE TEXTURING FOR USE IN A PHOTOVOLTAIC CELL AND METHOD OF MAKING 

$gtat recent solar cell development can be a “disruptive” and “game changing” technology when applied in combination with solar cell “stacking” technique. Complete breakdown & analysis is underway from your Obscure Analyst @ http://www.margolismatt.com