3-Dimensional Solar Cell Created by Solar3D

Above: Animation describing a three-dimensional photovoltaic cell. Three-dimensional cells are essential in Solar3D's technology.

Above: Animation describing a conventional photovoltaic cell, employing a two-dimensional structure.

Solar3D, Inc. is developing a breakthrough 3-dimensional solar cell technology to maximize the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Up to 30% of incident sunlight is currently reflected off the surface of conventional solar cells, and more is lost inside the solar cell materials. Inspired by light management techniques used in fiber optic devices, our innovative solar cell technology utilizes a 3-dimensional design to trap sunlight inside a photovoltaic structure where photons bounce around until they are converted into electrons. An innovative wide-angle light collection feature on the cell surface allows for the collection of sunlight over a range of angles during the day. This next generation solar cell will be dramatically more efficient, resulting in a lower cost per watt and it will make solar power affordable for the world.

We now have a working prototype, the performance of which has exceeded our expectations.

Two powerful characteristics of our 3D Solar Cell make it superior to current technology. First, it is substantially more efficient in producing power. Second, is our wide-angle light collection feature, which allows our 3D Solar Cell to collect light at all times of the day, month and year, an attribute unique in the solar world. Our computer simulation analysis indicated that the combination of these two features would produce double the power of a conventional solar cell. Based on the performance of our first working prototype, it appears that our 3D Solar Cell will exceed even that ambitious expectation. This device could be a giant leap forward, allowing solar power to achieve grid parity.

Our mandate was to create a solar cell that would produce substantially more power than the current technology at a low enough cost of production to deliver a considerably lower cost per watt of solar electricity. We spent the first half of the year completing our fabrication process methodology. In July, we announced the fabrication and showed pictures of the first cell. Now, we have an actual working cell that produces substantially more power than the control samples, which fulfills part one of our two-part goal. Now, our near term objective is to continue to improve the fabrication process and the power output, as we optimize the cost of manufacturing. We believe that the result will be a 50% reduction in the cost of solar electricity. Perhaps the installed system cost savings will be even greater.

Our total focus now turns toward bringing this breakthrough technology to market. Our next major step will be to produce a manufacturing prototype, which is required to undertake a pilot production run in early 2013. The pilot run will prove the 3D Solar Cell’s performance characteristics in a production environment and lead us to a manufacturing partner and entry into the marketplace by the end of 2013.

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