Night Vision Technologies Lead To More Efficient Solar Cells

Night vision technology
Night vision technology will make solar cells more efficient
(cc) Staff Sgt. James Selesnick

Sunovia Energy Technologies and its partner EPIR Technologies have completed the design and construction of a closed space sublimation (CSS) system for fabrication of polycrystalline cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cell devices. The two partner companies are developing an ultra high-efficiency, low cost CdTe on silicon photovoltaic product that is based on single-crystal CdTe instead of the polycrystalline material used in CdTe panels on the market today. The achievement of the 15 percent silicon baseline efficiency is the foundation for the fabrication of much higher efficiency multi-junction single crystal CdTe solar cells.

According to Dr. Siva Sivananthan, founder and CEO of EPIR Technologies, “We now know that two-junction CdTe on silicon (CdTe/Si) devices can reach efficiencies comparable to those of three-junction III-V solar cells on the market today, so the fabrication of three-junction and inverted three-junction CdTe-based devices have the potential to achieve efficiencies greater than 50 percent. In addition, multi-junction CdTe on Silicon photovoltaic devices can be manufactured at a fraction of the cost of the existing III-V solar cells.”

Dr. Sivananthan added, “Our technology combines high quality, single-crystal CdTe with silicon substrates for high-efficiency, two and three-junction solar cells. We already have a baseline silicon solar cell fabrication process in-house that results in over 15 percent efficiency. Setting up the CSS now gives us the baseline CdTe process, which furthers our extensive understanding of II-VI materials and solar cells, and allows us to accelerate the commercialization of our CdTe/Si products.”

Dr. Timothy Coutts, former NREL Fellow and founder of the Device Development Group at NREL, stated, “EPIR is well known in the field of infrared detectors and they are now using this expertise to develop a novel photovoltaic technology. This tool gives EPIR state of the art research ability in polycrystalline CdTe in addition to its already industry leading single-crystal CdTe on silicon epitaxial layer growth and device fabrication capabilities. Deposition rates using CSS are very high compared to other thin-film deposition techniques making the CSS process ideal for high volume manufacturing.”

Sunovia Energy Technologies, based in Sarasota, Florida, commercializes and markets products within the LED lighting, infrared, and solar markets that reduce carbon emissions and promote national security. Sunovia’s primary lines of business are advanced, cost-effective concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) and flat-panel solar systems that employ patented cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cell and infrared (IR) technologies, and energy-efficient LED lighting products marketed under the EvoLucia™ brand. Sunovia has exclusive marketing rights to products produced by EPIR Technologies, Inc. for civilian and military night vision markets.

Sunovia owns a significant equity interest in Illinois-based EPIR Technologies, Inc., a global leader in the field of IR sensors and IR imaging that has pioneered the commercialization of CdTe on Si and HgCdTe on Si photovoltaic products. EPIR’s collective infrared knowledge and experience is believed to exceed any company in the world. Its Founder, Chairman and CEO Dr. Sivalingam Sivananthan, is the pioneer of HgCdTe growth by molecular beam epitaxy and is a world renowned leader in this technology. EPIR holds the patent for growing CdTe directly on a Si readout integrated circuit, for which the company is developing a manufacturing capability with Congressional funding. Sunovia and EPIR have a network of close collaborative relationships, including the Army Research Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Night Vision Electronic Sensors Directorate, BAE Systems, and other laboratories around the world.

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