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Natcore China to develop solar film growth technology


February 23, 2010
by PLANT STAFF

Natcore China will use Natcore’s proprietary liquid phase deposition technology to create thin films of silicon dioxide for use in solar cells.
Photo: iStockphoto

VANCOUVER: Natcore Technology Inc. is forming a joint venture company with a consortium in China to develop and manufacture film-growth equipment and materials used to make solar cells.

Vancouver-based Natcore, sole licensee of a thin-film growth technology developed by Rice University in Houston, and Zhuzhou Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone, will form Natcore China to manufacture anti-reflective film growth equipment and materials using Natcore’s proprietary liquid phase deposition technology.

Silicon dioxide, or silica, is a fundamental building block in semiconductors, fibre optics and solar cells. It’s currently deposited onto silicon through a process called “thermal oxide growth, which involves the use of multi-million-dollar furnaces operating in a vacuum and at temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees.

Natcore’s technology grows thin films of silicon dioxide in mild chemical baths using standard, low-cost equipment that enables room-temperature growth of various silicon oxides on silicon wafers. The company says this milder process allows for much thinner wafers, as well as the development of advanced materials and devices that would be destroyed during the standard thermal oxide growth process. And it claims the technology could help silicon solar cell manufacturers to significantly reduce manufacturing costs and increase throughput.

Natcore China will be 55% owned by Natcore Technology, with the Hi-Tech and its partners (two Chinese firms, including a major producer of polysilicon and a manufacturer of industrial equipment used in the solar industry) holding the remaining 45 per cent.

Funding includes an initial $500,000 from Natcore Technology and $2.5 million from the Chinese partnership.
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