Fraunhofer launches company to transfer kerfless wafer technology into production


While current expectations for global solar growth are encouraging, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE says more needs to be done to improve PV module efficiencies, and reduce material and energy consumption in production.

To help achieve this, Fraunhofer says its "disruptive" kerfless wafer technology, which has been developed over the last 15 years, can promote "significant" cost reduction in the production of solar cells. NexWafe will serve the high-end wafer market, with wafers that are a "fraction of the cost" of standard wafers.

Former head of department Crystalline Silicon – Materials and Thin Film Solar Cells at Fraunhofer, Stefan Reber, is both founder and CEO of NexWafe. Together, with a team of 30, Reber has worked on developing different generations of deposition reactors. "The latest development, a reactor named ProConCVD, has been designed for high throughput as required in industrial production, demonstrating low-cost high-quality silicon epitaxy for PV," said Fraunhofer in a statement released.

Reber’s epitaxial deposition process focuses on atmospheric pressure chemical vapor deposition (APCVD) at temperatures up to 1,300°C. "This process is well-known from microelectronics, but had to be radically adapted for photovoltaic applications in terms of throughput of the equipment," added the Fraunhofer.

pv magazine has requested more details.