News Article

$2 Million Could Improve Ge-on-Si Solar Cell Efficiency

IQE and Silex will unite in a $2m Australian Solar Institute programme to improve III-V multiple-junction solar cells using novel Germanium-on-Silicon technology

IQE has been selected as a key wafer supplier by Australian CPV company Silex Systems as part of a $2 million programme.

Together, the firms will develop high efficiency multi-junction solar cells on low-cost large-area Silicon substrates.

Silex Systems received the $2 million grant from the Australian Solar Institute to support the company’s development of solar cell technology which could reduce energy production costs by up to 20 %.

The aim of the programme is to develop, fabricate, and test novel next-generation multiple-junction solar cells used in the evolving utility scale CPV solar power station industry.

The key differentiator is the development of a new virtual 'Germanium' substrate wafer-based substrate where a thin layer of Ge is deposited on a Silicon wafer. This will reduce the cost and potentially improve the efficiency of the multiple-junction cells in CPV applications. The new substrates and resulting CPV cell structures will be fully characterised and analysed in the lab and then tested in on-sun in field equipment.

The grant from the Australian Solar Institute (ASI) which was established by the Australian Government in 2009 is for the development of high efficiency multi-junction solar cells on low cost large area Silicon substrates. The programme, by Silex’s wholly owned subsidiary Solar Systems, has the potential to reduce the cost of energy production from CPV technologies by up to 20%.

Solar Systems will supplement the $2 million grant by providing about $3 million in project funding, with $2 million of in-kind support and $1 million in cash contributions over the three year project duration.

Project partner and Silex subsidiary Translucent will provide large area silicon substrate technology for the project, allowing for commercialisation of the technology to be fast tracked.

Andrew Johnson, IQE’s CPV Technology Director says, “Silex Systems’ selection of IQE as a partner for this programme clearly demonstrates that we are recognised as a key global player in CPV wafer products for advanced, high efficiency solar energy generation. This programme builds on our advanced capabilities in germanium on silicon for CPV applications that we launched in 2010 and compliments the range of CPV technologies in which we are active."

Other key CPV partners in the programme include Boeing-owned Spectrolab and Emcore Corporation for multi-junction cell production facilities.

These partnerships will allow for volume production of the solar cells, which will be incorporated into Solar Systems’ dense array system to characterise the performance of the new CPV modules at the Bridgewater Test Facility in central Victoria.
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