Natcore and NREL unveil two black silicon goals


"Our technology will create a new American industry," declared Natcore president and CEO Chuck Provini boldly. "We’ve been trying for two years to get financial support from the Department of Energy. This is a meaningful first step."

Today’s news has seen two very specific goals unveiled: (i) to reduce solar cell costs by between two and three percent; and (ii) to increase solar panel energy output from three to 10 percent over the course of a day, without the aid of a solar tracking mechanism. The parties say they will invest an initial US$150,000 in the work, however, this may be increased.

In a statement released, they explain, "These goals would be accomplished by combining Natcore’s patented liquid phase deposition (LPD) technology with NREL’s technologies for creating a black silicon antireflective layer integrated into high-efficiency solar cells. The feasibility of the combined technologies working together has already been demonstrated in an earlier Natcore/NREL effort that produced a cell with 16.5 percent efficiency."

At 18.6 percent NREL is currently said to hold the world record for a cell made with black silicon, which is said to absorb the sun’s energy better, when chemically etched to appear black. However, it had to be made using a passivation technology that requires thermal oxidation. "Natcore will replace that cumbersome step with its LPD oxide process. The combination of the two technologies could significantly exceed NREL’s record cell efficiency," continued the statement.

The news comes two months after the two parties first announced that they had entered into a patent license agreement to develop a line of black silicon products that can help increase photovoltaic cell efficiency. At the time, it was said that they would develop commercial prototypes based on NREL’s black silicon inventions and patents, including the ‘Black Silicon Nanocatalytic Wet-Chemical Etch’.