Imec, a leading nanoelectronics research center based in Leuven, Belgium is working with Flamac, a division of SIM vzw (Strategisch Initiatief Materialen in Vlaanderen or Strategic Initiative Materials in Flanders) to develop novel semiconductor materials for solar cell applications.
The collaboration screens novel materials that can be alternatives for the standard solar cells made of copper indium gallium and selenium (CIGS).
Flamac's recently installed PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) / PE-CVD (Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapour Deposition) coater allows the automated deposition of a variety of thin film materials. The platform consists of 8 process chambers enabling the study of PVD and PE-CVD coating processes. This coating system combined with the variety of high-throughput analytic tools available at Flamac represents a powerful screening platform for accelerated screening of novel materials.
Imec's research on solar cells focuses on improving the state-of-the-art efficiency and manufacturability of a number of key technologies, most notably silicon-based solar cells, and thin-film solar cells such as organic solar cells and printed inorganic cells based on nanoparticle inks. Imec's thin-film solar cell activities are integrated in the Solliance collaboration platform and in the SIM SoPPoM program.
Solliance's ambition is to strengthen the position of the Eindhoven-Leuven-Aachen triangle (ELAT region) as a world player in thin film PV. Solliance aims to realise this ambition by joint use of state-of-the-art infrastructure, alignment of research programs, and close cooperation with the solar business community. The SIM SoPPoM program, supported by the Flemish government, aims to create new, promising printing technologies thus enabling more efficient and cheaper processes to lead to further spread of PV-technology.
''Enabling R&D centres like imec to speed up their materials development is exactly what Flamac aims to achieve. I'm delighted that Flamac and imec have initiated a partnership in this application area,'' said Johan Paul, manager of Flamac.
''We consider the cooperation with Flamac as an essential part in the broadening of our PV-portfolio. By combining Flamac's expertise in high-throughput material research with our expertise in thin-film solar cells, we are convinced that we will achieve interesting results in a shorter timeframe. This broadening allows us to maximise the valorisation opportunities in Flanders and is a new important step in the strengthening of the ELAT region in the domain of thin-film solar cell technology as we strive together with Solliance,'' said Jef Poortmans, program director (energy) at imec.