This seasoned team of engineers has basically developed a “Proton Knife” that produces silicon wafers for solar PV at half the price of current technologies. In the highly cost competitive field of solar PV manufacturing, this is game changing.
“Hyperion, a manufacturing system developed by Twin Creeks Technologies, solves the problem of thick wafers with a technique called Proton Induced Exfoliation (PIE). In PIE, high-energy protons (or hydrogen ions) are embedded into “donor” wafers — standard wafers of silicon, germanium or other single-crystal materials— where they form a uniform layer beneath the surface of the donor. The physical attributes of hydrogen, combined with the conditions created by Hyperion, permit the ions to penetrate the surface of the donor wafer without changing its inherent properties and characteristics.”
Financed at about $100M, this firm may radically alter the course of human history to bring solar PV to grid parity within a few years.
“A single Hyperion 3 system, our commercial-scale manufacturing tool, can process over 1.5 million thin wafers per year, enough for more than 6 megawatts worth of solar cells. While Twin Creeks will initially concentrate on silicon wafers, Hyperion can be employed to produce thin crystalline wafers made from gallium arsenide, germanium, and other materials.
They announced today they have complete manufacturing systems ready to ship and install. They go on with their explanation of their approach…
“Solar cells, LEDs, and the chips inside everything from automobiles and computers to greeting cards come from expensive monocrystalline wafers made from materials like silicon, germanium, silicon carbide or gallium nitride. Despite tremendous technological advances over the last several decades, wafers still contain more material than manufacturers need.
A state-of-the-art silicon wafer today might measure 200 microns, or 200 millionths of a meter, thick. While incredibly thin, 90 percent of the material like silicon primarily serves to give the wafer structure. Only a thin surface layer of the wafer ultimately gets used for active functions like transmitting signals.”
“The additional heft adds cost. Silicon, for instance, is still the most expensive component of a finished solar module and the single highest expense when it comes to generating solar power. Worldwide fluctuations in supply and demand can also upset sales forecasts and manufacturing strategies. A long-term supply contract for silicon that gives a company a competitive advantage one year can become a liability the next.
Twin Creeks was founded on a desire to disruptively reduce the cost of solar energy to achieve grid parity. With the completion of our latest-generation Hyperion 3 toolset, we have a production system that can produce ultra-thin wafers less than one-tenth the thickness of conventional silicon solar wafers. Hyperion can fundamentally change the cost structure of many other industries that rely on high-cost, single-crystal wafers for their devices.
Today, solar is our development platform to invent and scale the technology and processes needed to make Hyperion the industry standard for low-cost, high-value single crystal substrate production.”
It will be interesting to watch the roll-out of this technology and if it will directly effect the world economy as their claims suggest. For more information about Twin Creeks Technologies and their credentials…