IMEC today announced that
it has established new partnerships with solar cell material and equipment suppliers.
These companies, including MEMC Electronic Materials Inc., Leybold Optics Dresden
GmbH, Roth + Rau AG, and Mallinckrodt Baker B.V., have concluded joint-development
agreements with IMEC in the frame of IMEC's newly launched wafer-based silicon
photovoltaics industrial affiliation program (IIAP). As part of this multi-partner
R+D program, and with support by the Flemish Government, a solar pilot line
will be set up. This pilot line will allow the partners to conduct advanced
solar cell process development research in a semi-industrial environment, enabling
an efficient transfer of the results of this research directly to the industry's
“With our IIAP program, we want to set up a research ecosystem with the
aim to create innovative processes to fabricate the next generations of silicon
solar cells. Researchers from solar cell manufacturers and material and equipment
suppliers will work together with IMEC's solar experts on developing these
advanced processes and testing them on our pilot line” said Jef Poortmans,
Program Director Solar+ at IMEC.
MEMC Electronic Materials Inc., Leybold Optics Dresden GmbH, Roth + Rau
AG, and Mallinckrodt Baker B.V., are starting joint-development projects with
IMEC, complementing the participation of SCHOTT Solar AG, a leading photovoltaics
manufacturer that recently joined IMEC's IIAP. MEMC has made its initial
shipments of high lifetime, thin crystalline silicon solar wafers to IMEC. Leybold
Optics Dresden GmbH is building an inline sputtering system A550V7 that will
be shipped to IMEC in Q4 of 2009. Roth + Rau AG will ship an AK-1000 RIE
inline plasma system for PV plasma texturization and PSG removal to IMEC in
the same period. Mallinckrodt Baker B.V. will be providing novel fluoride- and
non-fluoride-containing chemistry for the development of Hydrogen Fluoride (HF)
To extend its silicon photovoltaics research infrastructure, IMEC will benefit
from the recent decision of the Government of Flanders (Belgium) to invest in
renewable energies. IMEC will receive a grant of 8.7 million euro. This grant
will be used to set up the pilot line that will allow developing new processes
in a semi-industrial environment. The partners in the program will help build
this line, which will solely consist of industrial-strength tools. The goal
is to develop process flows that can easily be transferred to the industry.
“We are very grateful to the Flemish Government for their investment in
PV research infrastructure. Advanced infrastructure is key to enable research
on next-generation technologies;” added Jef Poortmans.
IMEC's silicon solar cell IIAP concentrates on a sharp reduction in silicon
use, whilst increasing cell efficiency and hence further lowering substantially
the cost per Watt peak. The program explores both wafer-based bulk silicon solar
cells and epitaxial cells.