Natcore Technology Inc. has commissioned the construction of an upgraded AR-Box solar cell processing station that will include black silicon capability.
Like the original AR-Box, this second-generation device will be manufactured by MicroTech Systems, Inc., of Fremont, CA, a 12-year-old Silicon Valley company that designs and manufactures wet-bench manufacturing equipment for solar, LED, semiconductor, biomedical, data storage and other high technology applications.
Although Natcore has negotiated a Chinese joint venture that is intended to provide AR-Box equipment for the Chinese market, Natcore chose to produce this new machine in the United States.
"We decided to produce it here because of MicroTech’s proven expertise. They should be able to complete the re-engineering and other improvements with reliability and speed," says Chuck Provini, Natcore’s President and CEO. "Speed is particularly important, because as soon as we can put these machines into manufacturers’ hands we can turn on the faucets of chemical sales and royalty revenues."
Under the terms of Natcore’s agreement, MicroTech will also be licensed to sell AR-Box equipment to North American solar cell manufacturers.
Similar to the first-generation AR-Box, the new machine will be semi-automated. But unlike the first AR-Box, this second-generation processing station will be designed to produce black silicon solar cell wafers in a pilot line role in existing solar cell manufacturing facilities.
Natcore expects that the new AR-Box will be completed in the first quarter of 2013. Pending a successful testing outcome, Natcore then hopes to sell the machine to its first customer. Natcore remains in close contact with potential customers as it refines the capabilities of its recently developed black silicon solar cells.
On October 25, 2012, Natcore announced that its scientists have created the world’s first black silicon solar cell using processes amenable to low-cost mass production. The company’s technical staff continues to refine the production process and improve the performance of its black silicon cells.
"It is precisely due to the progress we are making in our lab that we are now confident in commissioning the next generation of the AR-Box system," notes Brien Lundin, Natcore’s Chairman. "We anticipate our first AR-Box sales shortly after we are able to demonstrate the potentially significant cost and performance advantages projected for our black silicon solar cells."
Natcore believes that the projected higher energy output of black silicon solar cells, combined with their lower production cost using the Company’s technology, could quickly make black silicon the global solar technology of choice.