NanoFlex Power Corporation is pursuing two solar cell technologies that break completely from traditional approaches in both cost and profile, allowing us to address established solar markets as well as open new applications to solar power.
Through exclusive licenses with our research partners, NanoFlex holds extensive foundational intellectual property in both technologies with more than 600 issued or pending patents worldwide. Our intellectual property makes us a gatekeeper within these two technology verticals.
- Platform #1: Our inorganic Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) manufacturing technologies enable fabrication of these high performance, truly flexible, thin film solar cells at a fraction of current costs
- Platform #2: We are the world leader in small molecule organic photovoltaic (“SM-OPV™”) technology, which promises to deliver highly efficient, low-cost solar energy solutions via a host of new applications
Low-Cost, extremely flexible Gallium Arsenide solar cells
NanoFlex’s GaAs technologies enable fabrication of the highest performance solar cells at a fraction of current costs. GaAs is the highest performance solar technology currently available, but the high fabrication costs have made it prohibitively expensive for mass markets and limited adoption to specialty applications such as space and military.
Nanoflex has developed a fabrication process that dramatically reduces the production cost of GaAs solar cells, by utilizing a non-destructive epitaxial lift-off (ND-ELOTM) process which enables the re-use of the ultra-high-cost GaAs parent growth wafers. ND-ELOTM revolutionizes the cost structure of GaAs solar cell technology, converting the prohibitively expensive parent growth wafer cost from a recurring materials cost into a capital expenditure that is depreciated along with other equipment in the manufacturing facility. Furthermore, as part of the process, the ultrathin semiconductor is bonded to a truly flexible and thin secondary substrate such as plastic or metal foil using our adhesive-free, lightweight, ultra-strong and flexile patented process called Cold Weld bonding.
With the combination of GaAs’s high conversion efficiencies and the production cost reductions associated with utilizing our proprietary ND-ELO™, and Cold Weld processes, the costs of GaAs solar cells can approach cost-per-watt metrics associated with silicon-based solar cells. Moreover, GaAs cells provide functional and aesthetic advantages since they can be placed on flexible plastic, paper and other items that the current manufacturers using their technology are unable to incorporate today, as they are limited to rigid materials. All of this reduces even further the true balance of systems costs associated with solar energy.
Organic Photovoltaics (OPVs)
NanoFlex has developed a significant body of proprietary knowledge and intellectual property in organic semiconductor based photovoltaic cell technology. Organic semiconductors are carbon-rich compounds with a structure tailored to optimize a particular function, such as responsiveness to a particular range of visible light. The use of organic compounds as semiconductors for commercial applications is very new. Organic semiconductors have elicited intense interest globally as they hold the promise of ultra-low cost and high performance along with a host of break-through new properties that unlock exciting new product opportunities.
NanoFlex’s OPV technology platform is based on flexible, thin-film organic technologies that it has researched and developed over the last two decades. These thin films are for the most part “see through” and are ideal for applications that other solar is not, such as window films, and wherever esthetics is desired. OPV technology offers the potential to develop ultra-low-cost solar technologies that are suitable for flexible and mobile applications. NanoFlex’s approach has been to advance all dimensions of OPV technology, including the development of new materials (some of which are now being sold in small quantities by materials suppliers), new high efficiency device architectures, and ultra-high-speed, low-energy-cost production processes such as organic vapor phase deposition developed in GPEC’s researcher’s laboratories, and solar cell modulization.
A particular advantage of OPV technologies is the low cost of the materials used for the solar energy generating layers. Additionally, all of the fabrication temperatures are low and environmentally “green”, greatly reducing the ancillary costs required in conventional solar cell production. Furthermore, the growth of the thin film layers can be accomplished directly onto the plastic or metal foils and therefore is no need for energy-intensive and expensive epitaxial growth required by inorganic semiconductors such as silicon or GaAs. Rather, there is the opportunity to “print” organic solar cells onto continuous rolls of plastic in an ultra-high-speed manufacturing process. The potential for printed electronics - making solar cells “by the kilometer” rather than on one substrate at a time - makes OPV a potentially revolutionary step in the widespread acceptance and deployment of solar energy.
Since the organic films are see-through, lightweight and extremely thin (in this case the entire structure is only 0.1% the thickness of a human hair), they can be made semitransparent and adjusted to any desirable color. As a result, there are significant opportunities to achieve heretofore unrealizable applications such as car paint that allows vehicle coating to act as a source of power for an electric car; windows that can be coated with a clear semi-transparent film that captures photons from the sun to provide power for inside of the building, and fabric that can be made coated in order to make clothes, tents, flags, or lightweight roll-out power mats.