TEMPE, Ariz. — Amtech Systems reported that it was selected for a cooperative award totaling almost $1 million from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative.

The award is a part of the SunShot Initiative Technology-to-Market Incubator Round 10 program and supports Amtech’s ongoing focus on the advancement of crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar cell technology, particularly in key specialized areas of doping and surface passivation technologies.

This initiative is a pilot-production level project and seeks to develop a novel, low-cost passivation technology to enhance the energy conversion efficiency in c-Si solar cells and ultimately reduce the cost of the electricity generated.

The technology uses a patented, concept-proven method of charge introduction into a surface passivation film. The introduced charge forms a strong surface electric field and helps to prevent photo-generated carrier loss and to improve cell efficiency.

This charge-injection method does not cause negative side effects like parasitic film deposition or corrosion inside of the processing tool, which leads to a significant reduction in its total cost of ownership. As a result, this new method can be a low-cost alternative to the current aluminum oxide (Al2O3) passivation technology. The charge stability or reliability is a key concern for the commercialization of the technology and this project aims to improve stability by developing the optimal cell structure for this application.

Mr. Fokko Pentinga, Chief Executive Officer of Amtech, commented, “The innovation culture across Amtech’s businesses positions us very well to further our research, technologies, and product development as we closely align our efforts with the objectives of the SunShot Initiative. We are pleased that our never-ending focus on advancing solar cell efficiency is recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy. We are dedicated to driving progress within the solar industry as demand for next-generation technology solutions continues to grow around the globe.”

This funding opportunity is expected to expedite the commercialization of the technology while introducing important new equipment to the solar industry. The year-long project will be conducted as a cross-divisional effort utilizing resources from Amtech and its subsidiary BTU International. Amtech will also partner with the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), a recognized leader in solar cell research. Amtech and BTU will focus on the optimization of charging tool operation and test wafer-level charging experiment for various passivation stack options. Georgia Tech will focus on the development of advanced solar cell structures for the charging application.

About the SunShot Initiative
The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, the Energy Department supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour.

About Amtech Systems, Inc.
Amtech Systems, Inc. is a global supplier of advanced thermal processing equipment to the solar, semiconductor / electronics, and LED manufacturing markets. Amtech’s equipment includes diffusion, ALD and PECVD systems, and solder reflow systems. Amtech also supplies wafer handling automation and polishing equipment and related consumable products. The Company’s wafer handling, thermal processing and consumable products currently address the diffusion, oxidation, and deposition steps used in the fabrication of solar cells, LEDs, semiconductors, MEMS, printed circuit boards, semiconductor packaging, and the polishing of newly sliced sapphire and silicon wafers.

Derick Lila
Derick is a Clark University graduate—and Fulbright alumni with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, and Policy. He has over a decade of solar industry research, marketing, and content strategy experience.

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