nanowire vs traditional solar cell
Application in Li-ion batteries
Silicon is the anode material that has the highest lithium ion absorption capacity. However, silicon expands and contracts 4X when absorbing deabsorbing lithium. In bulk silicon this results in the silicon turning into powder and the battery failing. Putting silicon in the nanowire form allows this expansion and contraction while maintaining a continuous conductive path down the nanowire.
Advanced Silicon Group
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ASG’s core technology is the texturing of silicon using metal enhanced etching to produce silicon nanowire arrays. ASG owns the IP for practical solar cell device structures with this type of surface and also owns the IP for silicon nanowires used in Li-ion batteries, microfluidics, lab-on-chip, thermoelectrics, MEMS, and sensors. The unique capabilities of this technology are the controllability of the height, diameter, and density of the nanowires, uniformity over large surfaces, reproducibility, and production via large scale, low cost industrial processes (wet chemistry at atmospheric pressure).
ASG owns an extensive family of IP in the field of silicon nanowires and their application.
About the Technology
Application in Biosensors
Nanowires have been shown to be highly sensitive detectors of biomarkers, but traditional processes for fabrication are expensive and produce devices with only a handful of nanowires to accomplish the detection. ASG can produce devices with millions of nanowires inexpensively providing the opportunity for both highly sensitive detection and detection of multiple biomarkers on the same chip. ASG recently was awarded an NSF Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award to apply the technology for the detection of lung cancer biomarkers from blood samples which could result in major cost savings and improvements in patient outcomes.
Applications in Solar PV
In solar photovoltaics, the process can be implemented using tools found in standard solar cell lines and can produce gains of 0.5% to 1.5% in absolute efficiency over baseline processes. This means no new capital is needed so there is only a modest upfront engineering cost in implementing the process. The cost at the cell level is estimated to be the same as standard cells on a $/Wp basis which means that costs are lowered at the module level and further downstream. The higher efficiency also means cells and modules are worth more. Perhaps most important today, our process can successfully texture multicrystalline wafers sawn with diamond wire, enabling the material and cost savings available from this improved technology. The combination of these effects will raise margins substantially for cell makers (we estimate approximate doubling).