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Microsystems Enabled Photovoltaics (MEPV)

Solar Glitter™ Photovoltaic Technology

Sandia National Laboratories

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Technology Marketing Summary

Revolutionary microsolar technology utilizes glitter-sized photovoltaic cells to change how we generate and use solar power. The significantly reduced size and 100 times less silicon used, allows for increased versatility of photovoltaic applications. Traditional solar cells are 6” square wafers which restricts location, performance, and manufacturing. Other unique factors to this technology include solar tracking, self assembly, and power management techniques.

Description

Despite the significantly reduced size, the cells perform comparably to traditional solar cells which can allow for installation in more non-conventional areas such as tents and possibly clothing to recharge small electronics while in the field or outdoor recreation. The glitter-sized cells can also be used on more traditional applications such as roofing.

Benefits
  • 10 times thinner than conventional solar cells
  • More versatility
  • Highly efficient microsolar devices
  • Lower costs in manufacturing and installation
  • Can be fabricated from any size of commercial wafer
  • More resilient and reliable
  • Can be bent or contoured to fit virtually any surface
Applications and Industries
  • Solar energy generation
  • Energy storage
  • Battery charging applications
  • Satellites
  • Remote Sensing
  • Integrated solar on unusual, non-traditional items
  • Solar energy harvesting
  • Mobile electronics
  • Vehicles
More Information

16 issued patents and over 30 patents pending (see below).

PCT Filings: 

  • PCT/US13/049165 - PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER GENERATION SYSTEMS FREE OF BYPASS DIODES 
  • PCT/US13/57589 - DYNAMICALLY RECONFIGURABLE PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEM
  • PCT/US13/61641 - PROCESSES FOR MULTI-LAYER DEVICES UTILIZING LAYER TRANSFER                  
  • PCT/US13/063937 - TRANSPARENT CONTACTS FOR STACKED COMPOUND PHOTOVOLTAIC CELLS
  • PCT/US14/25616 - PHOTOELECTROCHEMICALLY DRIVEN SELF-ASSEMBLY     
  • PCT/US14/25726 - POWER TRANSFER FOR MOBILE ELECTRONIC DEVICES    
  • PCT/US14/25872 - SPREADING DEVICES INTO A 2-D MODULE LAYOUT          
  • PCT/US14/27508  - PRINTED CRYSTALLINE MICROELECTRONIC DEVICES       
  • PCT/US14/27670 - CUSTOMIZED COLOR PATTERNING OF PHOTOVOLTAIC CELLS            
  • PCT/US14/28059 - SOLAR TRACKING SYSTEM                  
  • PCT/US14/29074 - METHOD OF FORMING THROUGH SUBSTRATE VIAS (TSVS) AND SINGULATING AND RELEASING DIE HAVING THE TSVS FROM A MECHANICAL SUPPORT SUBSTRATE

View the Microsystems Enabled Photovoltaics (MEPV) technology summary on Sandia's IP Web Portal.

Visit the Microsystems Enabled Photovoltaics (MEPV) website for more information.

 

Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Date
Patent 8,614,395
Patent
8,614,395
Solar cell with back side contacts
A III-V solar cell is described herein that includes all back side contacts. Additionally, the positive and negative electrical contacts contact compound semiconductor layers of the solar cell other than the absorbing layer of the solar cell. That is, the positive and negative electrical contacts contact passivating layers of the solar cell.
12/24/2013
Issued
Patent 8,592,249
Patent
8,592,249
Photovoltaic solar cell
A photovoltaic solar cell for generating electricity from sunlight is disclosed. The photovoltaic solar cell comprises a plurality of spaced-apart point contact junctions formed in a semiconductor body to receive the sunlight and generate the electricity therefrom, the plurality of spaced-apart point contact junctions having a first plurality of regions having a first doping type and a second plurality of regions having a second doping type. In addition, the photovoltaic solar cell comprises a first electrical contact electrically connected to each of the first plurality of regions and a second electrical contact electrically connected to each of the second plurality of regions, as well as a passivation layer covering major surfaces and sidewalls of the photovoltaic solar cell.
11/26/2013
Issued
Patent 8,329,503
Patent
8,329,503
Photovoltaic solar concentrator
A photovoltaic solar concentrator is disclosed with one or more transverse-junction solar cells (also termed point contact solar cells) and a lens located above each solar cell to concentrate sunlight onto the solar cell to generate electricity. Piezoelectric actuators tilt or translate each lens to track the sun using a feedback-control circuit which senses the electricity generated by one or more of the solar cells. The piezoelectric actuators can be coupled through a displacement-multiplier linkage to provide an increased range of movement of each lens. Each lens in the solar concentrator can be supported on a frame (also termed a tilt plate) having three legs, with the movement of the legs being controlled by the piezoelectric actuators.
Sandia National Laboratories 12/11/2012
Issued
Patent 8,728,857
Patent
8,728,857
Photovoltaic solar cell
A photovoltaic solar cell for generating electricity from sunlight is disclosed. The photovoltaic solar cell comprises a plurality of spaced-apart point contact junctions formed in a semiconductor body to receive the sunlight and generate the electricity therefrom, the plurality of spaced-apart point contact junctions having a first plurality of regions having a first doping type and a second plurality of regions having a second doping type. In addition, the photovoltaic solar cell comprises a first electrical contact electrically connected to each of the first plurality of regions and a second electrical contact electrically connected to each of the second plurality of regions, as well as a passivation layer covering major surfaces and sidewalls of the photovoltaic solar cell.
05/20/2014
Issued
Patent 8,736,108
Patent
8,736,108
Photovoltaic system
A photovoltaic system described herein includes a first group of photovoltaic modules that comprises a first plurality of microsystem enabled photovoltaic modules. A second group of photovoltaic modules comprises a second plurality of microsystem enabled photovoltaic modules, wherein the first group of photovoltaic modules are electrically connected in parallel to the second group of photovoltaic modules.
05/27/2014
Issued
Patent 8,680,810
Patent
8,680,810
Microscale autonomous sensor and communications module
Various technologies pertaining to a microscale autonomous sensor and communications module are described herein. Such a module includes a sensor that generates a sensor signal that is indicative of an environmental parameter. An integrated circuit receives the sensor signal and generates an output signal based at least in part upon the sensor signal. An optical emitter receives the output signal and generates an optical signal as a function of the output signal. An energy storage device is configured to provide power to at least the integrated circuit and the optical emitter, and wherein the module has a relatively small diameter and thickness.
Sandia National Laboratories 03/25/2014
Issued
Patent 8,729,673
Patent
8,729,673
Structured wafer for device processing
A structured wafer that includes through passages is used for device processing. Each of the through passages extends from or along one surface of the structured wafer and forms a pattern on a top surface area of the structured wafer. The top surface of the structured wafer is bonded to a device layer via a release layer. Devices are processed on the device layer, and are released from the structured wafer using etchant. The through passages within the structured wafer allow the etchant to access the release layer to thereby remove the release layer.
05/20/2014
Issued
Patent 9,029,239
Patent
9,029,239
Separating semiconductor devices from substrate by etching graded composition release layer disposed between semiconductor devices and substrate including forming protuberances that reduce stiction
A method includes etching a release layer that is coupled between a plurality of semiconductor devices and a substrate with an etch. The etching includes etching the release layer between the semiconductor devices and the substrate until the semiconductor devices are at least substantially released from the substrate. The etching also includes etching a protuberance in the release layer between each of the semiconductor devices and the substrate. The etch is stopped while the protuberances remain between each of the semiconductor devices and the substrate. The method also includes separating the semiconductor devices from the substrate. Other methods and apparatus are also disclosed.
Sandia National Laboratories 05/12/2015
Issued
Patent 8,946,052
Patent
8,946,052
Processes for multi-layer devices utilizing layer transfer
A method includes forming a release layer over a donor substrate. A plurality of devices made of a first semiconductor material are formed over the release layer. A first dielectric layer is formed over the plurality of devices such that all exposed surfaces of the plurality of devices are covered by the first dielectric layer. The plurality of devices are chemically attached to a receiving device made of a second semiconductor material different than the first semiconductor material, the receiving device having a receiving substrate attached to a surface of the receiving device opposite the plurality of devices. The release layer is etched to release the donor substrate from the plurality of devices. A second dielectric layer is applied over the plurality of devices and the receiving device to mechanically attach the plurality of devices to the receiving device.
Sandia National Laboratories 02/03/2015
Issued
Application 20150114451
Application
20150114451
FLEXIBLE PACKAGING FOR MICROELECTRONIC DEVICES
An apparatus, method, and system, the apparatus and system including a flexible microsystems enabled microelectronic device package including a microelectronic device positioned on a substrate; an encapsulation layer encapsulating the microelectronic device and the substrate; a protective layer positioned around the encapsulating layer; and a reinforcing layer coupled to the protective layer, wherein the substrate, encapsulation layer, protective layer and reinforcing layer form a flexible and optically transparent package around the microelectronic device. The method including encapsulating a microelectronic device positioned on a substrate within an encapsulation layer; sealing the encapsulated microelectronic device within a protective layer; and coupling the protective layer to a reinforcing layer, wherein the substrate, encapsulation layer, protective layer and reinforcing layer form a flexible and optically transparent package around the microelectronic device.
Sandia National Laboratories 10/31/2013
Filed
Application 20140261616
Application
20140261616
SPREADING DEVICES INTO A 2-D MODULE LAYOUT
An apparatus, method, and system, the apparatus including a receiving member dimensioned to receive an array of microelectronic devices; and a linkage member coupled to the receiving member, the linkage member configured to move the receiving member in at least two dimensions so as to modify a spacing between the electronic devices within the array of microelectronic devices received by the receiving member. The method including coupling an array of microelectronic devices to an expansion assembly; and expanding the expansion assembly so as to expand the array of microelectronic devices in at least two directions within a single plane. The system including a support member; an expansion assembly coupled to the support member, the expansion assembly having a plurality of receiving members configured to move in at least two dimensions within a single plane; and a plurality of microelectronic devices coupled to each of the plurality of receiving members.
Sandia National Laboratories 03/12/2014
Filed
Application 20150114444
Application
20150114444
PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER GENERATION SYSTEM WITH PHOTOVOLTAIC CELLS AS BYPASS DIODES
A photovoltaic power generation system that includes a solar panel is described herein. The solar panel includes a photovoltaic sub-module, which includes a group of microsystem enabled photovoltaic cells. The group includes a first string of photovoltaic cells, a second string of photovoltaic cells, and a differing photovoltaic cell. Photovoltaic cells in the first string are electrically connected in series, and photovoltaic cells in the second string are electrically connected in series. Further, the first string of photovoltaic cells, the second string of photovoltaic cells, and the differing photovoltaic cell are electrically connected in parallel. Moreover, the differing photovoltaic cell is used as a bypass diode for the first string of photovoltaic cells and the second string of photovoltaic cells.
Sandia National Laboratories 10/24/2013
Filed
Patent 9,112,100
Patent
9,112,100
A METHOD FOR FABRICATING PIXELATED SILICON DEVICE CELLS
A method, apparatus and system for flexible, ultra-thin, and high efficiency pixelated silicon or other semiconductor photovoltaic solar cell array fabrication is disclosed. A structure and method of creation for a pixelated silicon or other semiconductor photovoltaic solar cell array with interconnects is described using a manufacturing method that is simplified compared to previous versions of pixelated silicon photovoltaic cells that require more microfabrication steps.
Sandia National Laboratories 08/18/2015
Issued
Application 20140261613
Application
20140261613
PHOTOELECTROCHEMICALLY DRIVEN SELF-ASSEMBLY
Various technologies described herein pertain to assembling electronic devices into a microsystem. The electronic devices are disposed in a solution. Light can be applied to the electronic devices in the solution. The electronic devices can generate currents responsive to the light applied to the electronic devices in the solution, and the currents can cause electrochemical reactions that functionalize regions on surfaces of the electronic devices. Additionally or alternatively, the light applied to the electronic devices in the solution can cause the electronic devices to generate electric fields, which can orient the electronic devices and/or induce movement of the electronic devices with respect to a receiving substrate. Further, electrodes on a receiving substrate can be biased to attract and form connections with the electronic devices having the functionalized regions on the surfaces. The microsystem can include the receiving substrate and the electronic devices connected to the receiving substrate.
Sandia National Laboratories 10/23/2013
Filed
Application 20110265709
Application
20110265709
Nitride Semiconductor Crystal Manufacturing Method, Nitride Semiconductor Crystal, and Nitride Semiconductor Crystal Manufacturing Apparatus
Nitride semiconductor crystal manufacturing method according to which the following steps are carried out. To begin with, a crucible (101) for interiorly carrying source material (17) is prepared. Within the crucible (101), heating of the source material (17) sublimes the source material, and by the condensing of source-material gases caused, nitride semiconductor crystal is grown. In the preparation step, a crucible (101) made from a metal whose melting point is higher than that of the source material (17) is prepared.
01/13/2010
Filed
Patent 8,906,803
Patent
8,906,803
Method of forming through substrate vias (TSVs) and singulating and releasing die having the TSVs from a mechanical support substrate
Accessing a workpiece object in semiconductor processing is disclosed. The workpiece object includes a mechanical support substrate, a release layer over the mechanical support substrate, and an integrated circuit substrate coupled over the release layer. The integrated circuit substrate includes a device layer having semiconductor devices. The method also includes etching through-substrate via (TSV) openings through the integrated circuit substrate that have buried ends at or within the release layer including using the release layer as an etch stop. TSVs are formed by introducing one or more conductive materials into the TSV openings. A die singulation trench is etched at least substantially through the integrated circuit substrate around a perimeter of an integrated circuit die. The integrated circuit die is at least substantially released from the mechanical support substrate.
Sandia National Laboratories 12/09/2014
Issued
Patent 8,895,364
Patent
8,895,364
Structured wafer for device processing
A structured wafer that includes through passages is used for device processing. Each of the through passages extends from or along one surface of the structured wafer and forms a pattern on a top surface area of the structured wafer. The top surface of the structured wafer is bonded to a device layer via a release layer. Devices are processed on the device layer, and are released from the structured wafer using etchant. The through passages within the structured wafer allow the etchant to access the release layer to thereby remove the release layer.
Sandia National Laboratories 11/25/2014
Issued
Application 20150068584
Application
20150068584
PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEM WITH MICRO-CONCENTRATOR ARRAY
A photovoltaic system is described herein. The photovoltaic system includes an array of micro-concentrators. Each micro-concentrator includes an exterior lens, an interior lens, and a transparent layer that is between the exterior lens and the interior lens. The array of micro-concentrators is optically aligned with an array of photovoltaic cells.
Sandia National Laboratories 09/08/2014
Filed
Application 20140259633
Application
20140259633
PRINTED CRYSTALLINE MICROELECTRONIC DEVICES
A method, system and apparatus, the method including positioning a microelectronic device on a carrier substrate; coupling the microelectronic device to a roller assembly; and rotating the roller assembly to transport the microelectronic device from the carrier substrate to a receiving substrate. The system including a carrier substrate configured to support a microelectronic device; a roller assembly configured to receive and transport the microelectronic device; and a receiving substrate dimensioned to receive the microelectronic device from the roller assembly. An apparatus for parallel assembly of microelectronic devices on a module including a laterally translatable carrier substrate configured to move a plurality of microelectronic devices in a first direction; a rotatable cylindrical body having a plurality of device openings dimensioned to receive the microelectronic devices; and a laterally translatable receiving substrate configured to move in a second direction.
Sandia National Laboratories 11/25/2013
Filed
Application 20140265998
Application
20140265998
POWER TRANSFER FOR MOBILE ELECTRONIC DEVICES
Described herein are various technologies pertaining to provision of energy to a rechargeable battery of a mobile electronic device. The mobile electronic device has an array of photovoltaic cells embedded therein or affixed thereto. The array of photovoltaic cells is electrically connected to the rechargeable battery of the mobile electronic device. A charging pad includes an array of optical emitters, which are configured to emit light when the mobile electronic device rests on or adjacent to the charging pad. A remotely situated light source acts as a luminaire and emits a directed beam of light towards the mobile electronic device to provide energy to the rechargeable battery.
Sandia National Laboratories 10/24/2013
Filed
Patent 9,029,681
Patent
9,029,681
Microsystem enabled photovoltaic modules and systems
A microsystem enabled photovoltaic (MEPV) module including: an absorber layer; a fixed optic layer coupled to the absorber layer; a translatable optic layer; a translation stage coupled between the fixed and translatable optic layers; and a motion processor electrically coupled to the translation stage to controls motion of the translatable optic layer relative to the fixed optic layer. The absorber layer includes an array of photovoltaic (PV) elements. The fixed optic layer includes an array of quasi-collimating (QC) micro-optical elements designed and arranged to couple incident radiation from an intermediate image formed by the translatable optic layer into one of the PV elements such that it is quasi-collimated. The translatable optic layer includes an array of focusing micro-optical elements corresponding to the QC micro-optical element array. Each focusing micro-optical element is designed to produce a quasi-telecentric intermediate image from substantially collimated radiation incident within a predetermined field of view.
Sandia National Laboratories 05/12/2015
Issued
Patent 9,143,053
Patent
9,143,053
Microinverters for employment in connection with photovoltaic modules
Microinverters useable in association with photovoltaic modules are described. A three phase-microinverter receives direct current output generated by a microsystems-enabled photovoltaic cell and converts such direct current output into three-phase alternating current out. The three-phase microinverter is interleaved with other three-phase-microinverters, wherein such microinverters are integrated in a photovoltaic module with the microsystems-enabled photovoltaic cell.
Sandia National Laboratories 09/22/2015
Issued
Patent 9,356,173
Patent
9,356,173
Dynamically reconfigurable photovoltaic system
A PV system composed of sub-arrays, each having a group of PV cells that are electrically connected to each other. A power management circuit for each sub-array has a communications interface and serves to connect or disconnect the sub-array to a programmable power grid. The power grid has bus rows and bus columns. A bus management circuit is positioned at a respective junction of a bus column and a bus row and is programmable through its communication interface to connect or disconnect a power path in the grid. As a result, selected sub-arrays are connected by selected power paths to be in parallel so as to produce a low system voltage, and, alternately in series so as to produce a high system voltage that is greater than the low voltage by at least a factor of ten.
Sandia National Laboratories 05/31/2016
Issued
Patent 9,391,557
Patent
9,391,557
Solar tracking system
Solar tracking systems, as well as methods of using such solar tracking systems, are disclosed. More particularly, embodiments of the solar tracking systems include lateral supports horizontally positioned between uprights to support photovoltaic modules. The lateral supports may be raised and lowered along the uprights or translated to cause the photovoltaic modules to track the moving sun.
Sandia National Laboratories 07/12/2016
Issued
Patent 9,508,881
Patent
9,508,881
Transparent contacts for stacked compound photovoltaic cells
A microsystems-enabled multi-junction photovoltaic (MEM-PV) cell includes a first photovoltaic cell having a first junction, the first photovoltaic cell including a first semiconductor material employed to form the first junction, the first semiconductor material having a first bandgap. The MEM-PV cell also includes a second photovoltaic cell comprising a second junction. The second photovoltaic cell comprises a second semiconductor material employed to form the second junction, the second semiconductor material having a second bandgap that is less than the first bandgap, the second photovoltaic cell further comprising a first contact layer disposed between the first junction of the first photovoltaic cell and the second junction of the second photovoltaic cell, the first contact layer composed of a third semiconductor material having a third bandgap, the third bandgap being greater than or equal to the first bandgap.
Sandia National Laboratories 11/29/2016
Issued
Patent 9,496,448
Patent
9,496,448
Customized color patterning of photovoltaic cells
Photovoltaic cells and photovoltaic modules, as well as methods of making and using such photovoltaic cells and photovoltaic modules, are disclosed. More particularly, embodiments of the photovoltaic cells selectively reflect visible light to provide the photovoltaic cells with a colorized appearance. Photovoltaic modules combining colorized photovoltaic cells may be used to harvest solar energy while providing a customized appearance, e.g., an image or pattern.
Sandia National Laboratories 11/15/2016
Issued
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
SD#10496Prototype - Prototype III - Demonstrated "proof of concept"Licensed06/16/201102/27/2014

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