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High Throughput Semiconductor Deposition System

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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<strong>Figure 1.</strong> Technology and cost reduction roadmap for HVPE-deposited GaInP/GaAs solar cells. All cases assume U.S. manufacturing and that new equipment and facilities are used.
Figure 1. Technology and cost reduction roadmap for HVPE-deposited GaInP/GaAs solar cells. All cases assume U.S. manufacturing and that new equipment and facilities are used.

<strong>Figure 2.</strong> Schematic of D-HVPE pilot-line reactor and some products benefiting from high efficiency, flexible PV.
Figure 2. Schematic of D-HVPE pilot-line reactor and some products benefiting from high efficiency, flexible PV.

<strong>Figure 3.</strong> Comparison of the costs to deposit 3 microns of GaAs with MOCVD versus HVPE. Assumes U.S. manufacturing and 150 million 6-inch wafers/year production volumes. Substrate costs are excluded, costs shown are only the cost to deposit the film.
Figure 3. Comparison of the costs to deposit 3 microns of GaAs with MOCVD versus HVPE. Assumes U.S. manufacturing and 150 million 6-inch wafers/year production volumes. Substrate costs are excluded, costs shown are only the cost to deposit the film.

Technology Marketing Summary

III-V films are typically deposited using a Metal-Organic Chemical Vapor Deposition (MOCVD) process, which requires expensive metal-organic precursors with low material utilization rates. MOCVD-deposited multi-junction solar cells are prohibitively expensive for many applications, with costs typically exceeding $100/Watt. An alternative to MOCVD for III-V material growth is Hydride Vapor-Phase Epitaxy (HVPE). HVPE eliminates the need for expensive precursors and has a significantly higher precursor material utilization rate, resulting in drastically reduced cell production costs compared to similar cells deposited by MOCVD. To further improve upon the HVPE process, NREL researchers have developed a novel, low-cost HVPE deposition method for III-V materials utilizing a proprietary HVPE reactor design.

Description

This novel HVPE deposition method enables the production of III-V material solar cells at a significantly lower cost than those created with MOCVD, with a projected production cost of less than $10/Watt. The HVPE reactor itself consists of isolated chambers through which a device can be moved in order to create single or dual junction architectures. In addition, these chambers prevent the mixing of reactant gases during the deposition process, enabling the growth of sharp, crystallographic interfaces.

The resulting solar cells’ combination of low cost, high efficiency, and exceptionally high specific power (a measure of power generated per unit of mass), make them ideal for space and/or weight constrained applications such as commercial building rooftops. The HVPE deposition process could also lead to wider deployment of solar power for defense applications, especially in medium/large UAVs and mobile power generation. Finally, HVPE deposited solar cells could open entirely new markets that silicon panels and other thin-film technologies are not well suited to address, such as incorporation into electric vehicles and portable electronic devices. 

Benefits
  • Low-cost production of GaAs/GaInP tandem cells at <$10/Watt
  • High material utilization
  • Continuous (i.e. not batch) processing
  • Prevents the mixing of reactant gases
  • High specific power, high efficiency solar cells
Applications and Industries
  • III-V films
  • Military/defense
  • BIPV
  • Semiconductors
  • HVPE
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
ROI 12-47PrototypeAvailable03/16/201703/16/2017

Contact NREL About This Technology

To: Bill Hadley<bill.hadley@nrel.gov>