Natcore Makes Major Advancements In Black Silicon, Discovers Compelling New
Posted: Thursday Oct 31 8:07:58AM 2013
Natcore's Black Silicon Technology Projected to Slash Solar Cell Production Costs by 23.5%
RED BANK, N.J. , Oct. 30, 2013 /CNW/ - An independent study has concluded that Natcore Technology's (NXT.V; NTCXF.PK; 8NT) black silicon technology could reduce silicon solar cell production costs by up to 23.5%.
The savings derive from a streamlining of the production process whereby a silicon wafer is processed into a black silicon solar cell.
To make solar cells, manufacturers typically acquire silicon wafers from an outside source. Since these wafers are cut from a large ingot, they usually have saw damage, which must be removed. To make a conventional solar cell, manufacturers must first remove the saw damage, then texturize the wafer surface, and then apply an antireflective coating.
To make a black silicon cell using Natcore's proprietary process, manufacturers would be able to replace the texture etch with a black silicon etch which in itself would create a highly effective antireflective coating.
Thus the most expensive part of the solar cell process – the equipment and material costs associated with high-temperature chemical vapor deposition of a silicon nitride antireflective coating – is completely eliminated.
Natcore asked analysts at the country's leading black silicon research facility to quantify the cost saving to be realized from omitting these steps. Using a "bottom up" manufacturing cost estimating methodology, the analysts calculate the production cost of a conventional silicon solar cell to be 17 cents per watt. In comparison, the study projected that cells made using Natcore's black silicon process would cost about 13 cents per watt.
The resulting savings of 3 cents /watt – 4 cents /watt represent a production cost reduction of up to 23.5%. "When solar companies are scrambling to save fractions of a cent, a saving of 3 cents – 4 cents per watt is momentous," says Dr. Dennis Flood , Natcore's co-founder and Chief Technology Officer.
In addition to the dramatic cost reduction, Natcore's test, which was conducted using monocrystalline silicon, had an important environmental benefit: it eliminated the need for silane, a highly toxic gas that combusts upon exposure to air. Natcore may plan a similar test using polycrystalline silicon at a later date.
"We knew there would be a cost saving," says Chuck Provini , Natcore's president and CEO. "We were surprised that it was so large. In fact, production-cost savings of this magnitude will likely overshadow any power gains of black silicon and will make Natcore's technology a must-have for the world's solar cell manufacturers.
"To put it into perspective," he notes, "a recent article by Shyam Mehta , senior solar analyst of GTM Research ('Technology not materials to drive down Chinese solar costs,' August 2013 ), predicts that Chinese manufacturers will be able to cut prices by only one cent in the next year or so. We could quadruple those savings in one fell swoop. We feel so optimistic about this development that we've begun making plans to take our technology to market."
"The full cost of a solar cell is the sum of two parts: the cost of the silicon wafer and the cost of the processing steps required to turn the wafer into a working solar cell," says Flood. "Cell manufacturers have no control over the cost of the silicon wafers they buy. As a result they are always looking for ways to control their production costs, but with a very important caveat: cost cutting must not lower cell performance in any way. Natcore's black silicon processing technology results in solar cells that meet or exceed the industry's requirement and at the same time provide a spectacular reduction in finished cell cost. Natcore's technology can easily be retrofitted into existing solar cell production lines and can just as easily be incorporated into a new line. Black silicon seems poised to become the industry's standard approach."
Posted: Tuesday Sep 17 7:53:00PM 2013
First Self-Powered Artificial Retina Could Allow Normal Visual Acuity and Restoration of Color Vision
Natcore Technology Issued U.S. Patent
Red Bank, N.J. — (September 17, 2013) — The U.S. Patent Office has awarded patent no. 8,433,417 to Newcyte Inc. for a carbon nanostructure artificial retinal implant. Newcyte was purchased in 2009 by Natcore Technology Inc. (NXT.V; NTCXF.PK; 8NT).
“There are several other patents for artificial retinas,” says Dr. Dennis Flood, Natcore’s Chief Technology Officer and the inventor of the device. “But all of them have limitations. Some require the patient to have sight. Some restore only limited acuity, or the ability to detect motion or to distinguish between light and dark. Some are bulky and/or require prosthesis. Ours is a self-powered implant that doesn’t require a camera, a transmitter, or any other external device. It would work as long as the patient’s nerves are alive and only the rods and cones are affected. And it has the potential to be wavelength selective, so that color vision could be reintroduced to people whose only prospect now is a cloudy black-and-white.”
The need for this artificial retina is substantial. According to the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS), an estimated 15 million Americans have age-related macular degeneration (AMD). ASRS also says that retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease, affects one in 4000 Americans. Natcore believes that both of these disorders could be corrected with its artificial retina.
The Natcore retina comprises an array of carbon nanotubes, grown vertically on a substrate. The nanotubes are coated with a semiconducting material, in effect wrapping a solar cell around them, with the tips of the nanotubes exposed and arranged to extend into the ganglion nerves. When light enters the eye and is focused by the lens onto the artificial retina, a voltage buildup causes the nerves to fire, acting like a synapse and sending a signal to the brain. The coated carbon nanotubes act like rods or cones, the eyes’ photoreceptors that convert light into signals that can stimulate biological processes.
The Natcore device would be surgically implanted. It would be a flat round disc with a diameter of approximately 4mm, roughly the size of a pencil eraser.
Dr. Flood has 33 years’ experience in developing solar cell and array technology for both space and terrestrial applications at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, where he served as Chief of the Photovoltaic and Space Environments Branch. He was moved to invent this artificial retina when his wife lost the macula of her left eye at a relatively early age due to a form of wet macular degeneration. His invention uses some of the same carbon nanotube technology already owned by Natcore.
“Given our recent advances with black silicon, the selective emitter and the flexible solar cell, we have an embarrassment of riches,” says Chuck Provini, Natcore’s president and CEO. “The path to commercialization for those three applications is now a relatively short one, while our artificial retina will require much more time. Because of its huge potential and the immediate need for it, we’ll probably look for a joint venture partner, a licensee, or an outright buyer to take it to market.”
Posted: Friday Apr 12 9:24:16AM 2013
Can\'t find my old Natcore thread so starting a new one orignally picked at $0.42 a couple years back.\r\n
Black Silicon and Selective Emitter Have Been Prime Goals Of Solar Industry For Years\r\n
Solar Science Pioneer Joins Natcore\'s Advisory Board\r\n
RED BANK, N.J., April 11, 2013 /CNW/ - Natcore Technology Inc. (TSX-V: NXT; NTCXF.PK) has made major strides in advancing its black silicon solar cells to commercial levels of efficiency and, as part of its development process, has discovered that its technology could finally provide the industry with a low-cost selective emitter application.\r\n
Natcore\'s initial black silicon solar cells, the first full-size black silicon cells produced using a low-cost, scalable manufacturing process, had efficiencies of approximately 1%, as compared with average efficiencies for commercial cells of approximately 17%.\r\n
Through refinement of its in-lab production process, and despite the lack of a key piece of equipment, Natcore\'s technical staff has been able to achieve efficiencies as high as 14.7%.\r\n
These results have been achieved without an adequate diffusion furnace to control phosphorus diffusion into the solar cells\' silicon surfaces. Natcore has now obtained and installed a fully capable diffusion furnace, with commissioning of this crucial piece of equipment having begun the week of April 1 . The company\'s technical staff is confident that this diffusion furnace will allow for significant improvements in the efficiencies of its black silicon cells.\r\n
Importantly, Natcore\'s staff has discovered that its proprietary liquid phase deposition (LPD) may make a low-cost selective emitter application available to the solar industry. Selective emitter technology is a long-sought enhancement to solar cells in which the regions under a cell\'s front contacts are heavily doped to improve the electrical connection, while the remaining emitter surface is lightly doped to promote better efficiency.\r\n
Selective emitter applications have been proven to significantly increase solar cell efficiencies, but a low-cost, highly scalable process has remained elusive to industry. Theoretically, Natcore\'s LPD process could make this achievable, and early results from experiments using the company\'s newly installed diffusion furnace have been very encouraging.\r\n
Because of these positive results, Natcore is now rapidly moving to protect its selective emitter intellectual property, and is in the process of filing provisional patents.\r\n
\"The solar industry has been clamoring for a selective emitter application that is cost-effective because of its demonstrated improvement to cell efficiencies,\" notes Natcore\'s CEO, Chuck Provini. \"In fact, once Dr. Daniele Margadonna joined our Science Advisory Board and learned of our plans to install a new diffusion furnace, he immediately urged us to simultaneously pursue a selective emitter approach. I\'m pleased to say that we were very quickly able to demonstrate the efficacy of our technology toward this crucial and valuable application.\"\r\n
Natcore\'s black silicon and selective emitter applications are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they are synergistic. Indeed, the envisioned production process would allow both of these important improvements to be seamlessly inserted into a solar cell manufacturing line.\r\n
\"Combining Natcore\'s black silicon technology with our groundbreaking selective emitter technology could raise today\'s commercial solar cell efficiencies to new high levels, while still lowering the cost per watt,\" says Natcore\'s Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Dennis Flood . \"Solar cell manufacturers are aggressively seeking easy-to-implement production steps that will improve their product and profitability without having to raise their prices. Natcore\'s combination of selective emitter and black silicon technologies promises to do just that.\"\r\n
Natcore also announced today that, after conducting due diligence into the company\'s technology, solar industry pioneer Dr. David Carlson has joined the company\'s Science Advisory Board.\r\n
A physicist with a worldwide reputation in photovoltaics and materials science, Dr. Carlson served as the chief scientist of BP Solar until his recent retirement.\r\n
In 1974, Dr. Carlson invented the amorphous silicon solar cell at RCA Laboratories, and was the first to demonstrate that hydrogenated amorphous silicon could be doped either p- or n-type and could be used to form a semiconductor junction.\r\n
Dr. Carlson was a co-recipient of the 1984 Morris N. Liebmann Award (IEEE) \"for crucial contributions to the use of amorphous silicon in low-cost, high-performance photovoltaic solar cells.\" For his outstanding contributions in the field of solar energy, he has also received the Walton Clark Medal from the Franklin Institute, the William R. Cherry Award from the IEEE, and the Karl W. Boer Medal from the International Solar Energy Society and the University Delaware.\r\n
Dr. Carlson is a fellow of the IEEE and has been a member of the American Physical Society, the American Vacuum Society, and Sigma Xi. He has published more than 150 technical papers, has been issued 26 U.S. patents, and has eight patents pending. He is listed in Who\'s Who in America.\r\n
Dr. Carlson received a B.S. in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a PhD in Physics from Rutgers University. He served as a U.S. Army captain in Pleiku, Vietnam in 1969 and 1970.\r\n
Dr. Carlson joins Dr. Daniele Margadonna , Chief Technology Officer of MX Group SpA, on Natcore\'s Science Advisory Board.\r\n
\"These two scientists, along with our co-founders Dr. Andy Barron and Dr. Dennis Flood and our Director of Research, Dr. David Levy , give us a brain trust that in my opinion is unsurpassed in the solar industry,\" notes Brien Lundin, Natcore\'s Chairman. \"Because of our recent advancements and expanding scientific and technical resources, we are also expanding our space at Eastman Business Park five-fold, to 20,000 square feet, in preparation for the progression of our technology from the lab to manufacturing facilities.\"\r\n
Statements in this press release other than purely historical factual information, including statements relating to revenues or profits, or Natcore\'s future plans and objectives, or expected sales, cash flows, and capital expenditures constitute forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are based on numerous assumptions and are subject to all of the risks and uncertainties inherent in Natcore\'s business, including risks inherent in the technology history. There can be no assurance that such forward-looking statements will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on such statements. Except in accordance with applicable securities laws, Natcore expressly disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements or forward-looking statements that are incorporated by reference herein.\r\n
Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.