Tech Tuesday is an ongoing series profiling the Forum’s Technology Pioneers. The Tech Pioneers are companies that have been recognized by the Forum for groundbreaking and innovative approaches in tackling some of the world’s most wicked problems. Each week we will showcase some of the 2012 Tech Pioneers. You can learn more about the Technology Pioneer Programme on the Forum's website.
1366 Technologies dramatically reduce the cost of silicon wafers in solar panels
A major factor in the cost of manufacturing solar photovoltaic panels is that the silicon that accounts for roughly one-half of the cost of each panel needs to be cut from solid blocks. Nearly one-half of the silicon is lost in the process and the precision engineering required to cut the wafers to within a tolerance of a few microns is extremely expensive. The revolutionary new approach of 1366 Technologies promises to change the equation by moulding the wafers directly from molten silicon. The silicon is poured into thin sheets much the way glass is formed. The new process makes it possible to get twice as many wafers per pound of silicon, while dramatically streamlining the manufacturing process. The company’s game-changing approach, which also involves texturing the cell surface to optimize light capture, manages to boost the efficiency of low-cost multicrystalline cells to roughly 18%, a rating that can only usually be found in more costly monocrystalline cells. The company plans to begin shipping standard-sized multicrystalline wafers that are 200 microns thick by 2013. By dramatically reducing manufacturing costs, 1366 Technologies is advancing importantly in closing the price gap between solar energy and fossil fuels.
Emanuel Sachs, Chief Technology Officer
Location: MA, USA
Number of Employees: 35
Year Founded: 2007
45 Hartwell Avenue
Lexington, MA 02421
Telephone: +1 781 861 1611
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.