Twin Creeks’ ion cannon can make flexible silicon based solar cells at half the cost

Flexible solar cell made by Twin Creeks Technologies
Flexible solar cell made by Twin Creeks Technologies
Twin Creeks Technologies is a startup company that has just unveiled a new process for making silicon based solar cells that they claim will cut the cost of manufacturing solar cells in half.   The CEO of Twin Creeks, Siva Sivaram, showed off a small solar cell factory they’ve built in Mississippi and said that their new process reduces the amount of silicon needed to make photovoltaic cells and also reduces the cost of the manufacturing process. Their cells are also so thin that they are flexible.

The current way most manufacturers make silicon based solar cells is to take blocks of silicon and cut them into wafers 200 micrometers think.   The cutting process ends up wasting about half of the silicon.  Any thinner than 200 micrometers, and the wafers tend to get brittle.  What Twin Creeks has developed allows them to make strong 20 micrometer think wafers with hardly any waste.  By using their newly designed particle accelerator (the Hyperion 3 ion cannon), they bombard three millimeter thick disks of crystalline silicon with a high energy beam of hydrogen ions.

When the wafer is heated, the

Twin Creeks Technologies Hyperion 3 ion cannon
Twin Creeks Technologies Hyperion 3 ion cannon
hydrogen ions that become embedded in the silicon expand to cause  a 20-micrometer thick layer of silicon to flake off.  (Proton-induced exfoliation is the formal name of this technique.)   A thin metal backing is then added to the thin piece of silicon to add strength while maintaining flexibility.

Overall, the Twin Creeks’ process reduces the amount of silicon needed to make solar cells by about 90%, and they are just as efficient as standard silicon based solar cells.  The company is saying that the total cost of manufacturing is reduced to about 40 cents per watt, compared to about 80 cents per watt for the cheapest silicon based solar cells being made now. Twin Creeks says that their process can be  used with existing production lines with only minor changes, and that they want to sell their machines to companies that are already making solar cells instead of making their own.    Their goal is to have half a dozen to a dozen of these machines in place and operating with solar cell manufacturers by this time next year.  Each Hyperion machine is capable of producing enough silicon layers for 1.5 million solar cells each year.

via: MIT Technology Review, San Francisco Chronicle

4 thoughts on “Twin Creeks’ ion cannon can make flexible silicon based solar cells at half the cost

  1. This is great! Too bad that the Government will come in and try to ruin them with regulations, the Chinese will steal their concept to create their, and ultimately GE will buy them out, get subsidies to produce “cheap cells”, but still charge an arm and a leg for sub-par equipment.

  2. [email protected] =MADAY S.A.R.L ENG.ESSAM ABDELNABY PROVIDES HASSLE FREE SOLUTIONS BY OFFERING 360DEGREE SOLUTIONS AND SERVICECES FOR THE SOLAR ENERGY PROJECT .This covers every thing from tendering to land,site indentification,supply of solar panels and commissioning,power evacuation and maintenance over the entire life of the project. Obtaining the nessary permission and expediting finance from banks etc.

  3. I think Vince Rossi nailed it. December 2016

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