The next stage, according to CEO and president Jim Nelson, is to fabricate a prototype of the cell. "If the results of our tests hold up in fabrication, as we expect, then our product’s performance will be among the very highest conversion efficiencies achieved by silicon solar cells," he stated.
He added, "We think that our novel three-dimensional solar cell has the potential to dramatically change the economics of solar power. A high efficiency solar cell manufactured with low cost silicon could result in the lowest cost per watt in the industry."
After a successful prototype has been made, Santa-Barbara-based Solar 3D says it will then be looking to establish partnerships with manufacturers, most likely from the semiconductor industry, in order to commercialize the cells.
The technology is said to be inspired by light management techniques used in fiber optic devices, with the three-dimensional cell designed to "trap sunlight inside a photovoltaic structure where photons bounce around until they are converted into electrons".
Speaking to pv magazine in August, Nelson explained that the cell is made using existing semiconductor technology. "Therefore, it is the ideal situation for a semiconductor manufacturer with excess capacity," he explained. He believes that the new 3D cells will be less expensive to manufacture than traditional solar cells.
At the time, he said that the cell could be commercial by next year.