Cheaper Solar Cells Going Commercial

By finding a simpler way to produce silicon wafers — the building block of solar cells — 1366 Technologies is set to revolutionize the solar energy game. The Lexington, Mass. company has raised $20 million to commercialize a technique that it says will cut the cost of solar panels by 40 percent.

Typically, solar panels are manufactured by sawing large sheets of silicon into silicon wafers, wasting about half of the silicon produced. The technique pioneered by 1366 Technologies casts ready-to-use silicon wafers at at their optimal size (six inches across and 200 microns thick).

The company, which received $4 million from Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy in December 2009, has raised an additional $20 million in private capital to commercialize the technology. Some of it is coming from Hanwa Chemical, a South Korean company that is a major customer of the wafers.

Hanwa chairman Ki-joon Hong said that his company had “every confidence that 1366’s innovations will fundamentally change solar manufacturing.”

(Via NYT Green Blog)

Photo via Inhabitat

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