PROJECT PROFILE: Leading Edge Crystal Technologies (T2M3)

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Project Title: Refinement of the Floating Silicon Method: A Low-Cost Monocrystalline Silicon Wafer Manufacturing Process
Funding Opportunity: Technology to Market 3
Solar Subprogram: Technology to Market
Location: Gloucester, MA
Amount Awarded: $1,500,000
Awardee Cost Share: $2,582,021

Leading Edge Crystal Technologies is developing kerfless, single crystal wafer manufacturing technology that enables a projected all-in cost reduction of at least 25% in solar panel manufacturing. This project also supports the production of sample wafers for process development and product demonstration with industry partners.

Approach

In order to produce high-quality wafer material and develop a repeatable process for doing so, the research team plans to retrofit a research wafer production tool and optimize the tool parameters using feedback from third parties on wafer performance. By leveraging sample wafer demonstrations, this project will further engage the industry to develop a representative process cost model and establish industry partnerships to validate the wafers beyond the project’s lifetime. 

Innovation

The process under development in this project is unprecedented due to its demonstration of full-width single crystal ribbon production. The material being produced has extremely low amounts of oxygen, which may enable increased solar cell power output when dropped into existing production lines. As the solar industry has reached maturity and manufacturers are struggling to reduce costs, this high quality, direct-wafer technology has the potential to produce wafers for less than 60% of the cost of industry-standard single crystal wafers, translating to a 25% all-in cost reduction in solar panel manufacturing.