Solexel also has significant accomplishments to back this up, including reaching a cell efficiency of 21.2% this year with its 35 micron wafers, which are roughly 20% the thickness of standard silicon wafers and thin enough to bend.

Thin wafers are much more delicate than the standard 160 180 micron wafers, and as such require special equipment.

If you go with the thinner wafers, you have to change the whole production line, because handling thin wafers is really tricky,” notes VLSI ResearchEurope MD John West. Solexel has addressed this problem by keeping its wafers adhered to a substrate during the initial phases of cell processing.

MARGINALIE END###While many thin and kerfless wafer startups have failed at this, 1366 says that it is consistently producing wafers that serve as the basis for cells with 17% or greater efficiency, using standard cell processes.

The back contact cells that Solexel produces with its thin silicon wafers have achieved efficiencies as high as 21.2%, with modules at 19% efficiency.

The value proposition for thin and kerfless wafer technologies is tied to the cost of polysilicon,” explains Mehta.

My thinking is that there is definite potential for thin or even kerfless wafer technologies to make broad penetration in the market over the long run.