Finalists: 1366 Technologies Direct Wafer process

 

Since last year, when the Direct Wafer process developed by U.S.-based 1366 Technologies was a runner up in our Technology Highlights award, the team has taken the technology several steps further, heading towards large-scale commercialization with its partners at Hanwha Q Cells.

Notable highlights in 2016 include a 19.9% efficient 156 mm multi PERC cell, produced by Hanwha; a strategic partnership with polysilicon producer Wacker Chemie, including a $15 million equity investment; and the first commercial installation of modules using the 1366 wafers, at a 500 kW array in Japan deploying modules produced by an unnamed Chinese manufacturer.

On the technology front, 2016 saw 1366 roll out its 3D wafer concept, wherebythicker wafers can be produced and deployed for encapsulation at the edge ofsolar modules while thinner wafers can be used towards the center of themodule all of this on the standard 1366 process.

The kerfless wafer process involves the formation of wafers from moltensilicon, and while this is not a completely new idea, 1366 appears to haveovercome several challenges inherent to the process.

The company can now claim that it is the only wafer made using kerflesstechnology with a standard format, meaning they can be used in cell andmodule production with no requirement for manufacturers to invest in newequipment.

The issue is: How are the economics when you want to go to thousands ofwafers per hour? Direct Wafer is attractive by itself, data on cell efficienciesshow that you can get high quality material.

Two years ago the technology was a good idea, but right now the market hasaccess to really cheap wafers.