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Techniques of Nanoscale Silicon Texturing of Solar Cells

Sandia National Laboratories

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PDF Document PublicationMarket Sheet (766 KB)

Technology Marketing SummarySandia National Laboratories has created a technology that produces an antireflective (matte) surface on a silicon photovoltaic solar cell.  The process uses a randomly deposited metal catalyst followed by reactive ion etching (RIE) to produce nanoscale surface features.  The texture of the cells is more effective in solar absorption and, therefore, storage of energy. This nanoscale texturing is also a cost effective and environmentally safe tool for a renewable energy source.DescriptionThe subwavelength (nanoscale) roughness presents a gradual interface between the air and the photovoltaic cell which reduces reflection loss, for high overall solar energy collection efficiency.  In contrast to a chlorine-based etch process, this nanoscale texturing process is a cost effective alternative that uses nontoxic materials.Benefits
  • Cost effective
  • “Green” technology
  • Renewable energy
  • Process is non-toxic
Applications and Industries
  • Energy storage
  • Use in solar panels and harnessing solar power
  • Alternative energy developments
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 6,329,296
Metal catalyst technique for texturing silicon solar cells
Textured silicon solar cells and techniques for their manufacture utilizing metal sources to catalyze formation of randomly distributed surface features such as nanoscale pyramidal and columnar structures. These structures include dimensions smaller than the wavelength of incident light, thereby resulting in a highly effective anti-reflective surface. According to the invention, metal sources present in a reactive ion etching chamber permit impurities (e.g. metal particles) to be introduced into a reactive ion etch plasma resulting in deposition of micro-masks on the surface of a substrate to be etched. Separate embodiments are disclosed including one in which the metal source includes one or more metal-coated substrates strategically positioned relative to the surface to be textured, and another in which the walls of the reaction chamber are pre-conditioned with a thin coating of metal catalyst material.
Sandia National Laboratories 12/11/2001
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
US Patent# 6,329,296Development - Sandia estimates this technology at a TRL 4. Key elements have been demonstrated in relevant environments. Available - Various license and partnering options are available. Please contact the Intellectual Property department to discuss. This is a valuable technology for a potential licensee or partner who wishes to expand on the existing technology and research for commercial use.04/09/201003/12/2013

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