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Production system yields ultrathin monocrystalline wafers

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Proton Induced Exfoliation? monocrystalline wafer? solar module?

Twin Creeks Technologies has launched a wafer production system that claims to reduce the cost of solar modules and semiconductor devices. According to the company, Hyperion does this by decreasing the amount of silicon and other substrate materials by up to 90 percent.

Taking advantage of a technology called Proton Induced Exfoliation (PIE), Hyperion generates monocrystalline wafers that are less than 1/10th the thickness of conventional wafers, stated Twin Creeks. The company estimated that Hyperion will permit manufacturers to produce solar cells for under $0.40/W in commercial-scale volume production facilities with prices declining over time.


Hyperion claims to yield monocrystalline wafers that are 1/10th thinner than conventional wafers.

With PIE, Hyperion effectively uses atoms as a scalpel. Hyperion embeds a uniform layer of high-energy protons, which are hydrogen ions, into monocrystalline wafers to a depth of up to 20?. When heated, this new layer expands, cleaving the top surface from the donor wafer to form an ultra-thin wafer that is otherwise identical to the original. The ultra-thin wafer is then further processed into solar modules or semiconductors. Creating wafers with PIE also eliminates the kerf, or wasted silicon, in solar manufacturing.

Hyperion is compatible with a wide variety of monocrystalline wafers including germanium (used to make concentrated PV solar modules), gallium nitride, sapphire and silicon carbide (LEDs and power electronics), noted the company.

In addition to being much lighter than conventional solar cells, cells produced with Hyperion wafers are also bendable, allowing manufacturers to consider flexible packaging and encapsulants for modules instead of glass. Additional layers of photovoltaic material can be added to wafers as well. Twin Creeks has produced heterojunction solar cells that combine crystalline and amorphous silicon in its development center. Over time, the combination of lower cost and lighter packaging will allow Twin Creeks customers to expand into other markets such as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) and consumer electronics.

In keeping with providing a true manufacturing solution, Twin Creeks has developed intellectual property for creating and handling ultra-thin wafers as well as producing finished solar cells. This intellectual property can be licensed to Twin Creeks customers.

Hyperion 3, the third-generation wafer production system designed and built by Twin Creeks, is the company's first commercial offering. It is available for shipment now.

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