Sunovia Energy Technologies, Inc. and EPIR Technologies, Inc. are in the process of developing the most advanced cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells. The top experts and leading institutions in the world for CdTe now reside with the companies.
The solar industry is currently dominated by the use of silicon (Si); however CdTe is growing rapidly in acceptance and now represents the second most utilized solar cell material in the world. Cadmium telluride is also referred to in general terms as a II-VI material because it combines a group two element in the periodic table with a group six element. An extensive knowledge of how to use and combine II-VI materials with Si is critical to accelerating the development of highly efficient, low-cost solar cell systems. The companies have achieved this by securing a world class team of scientist and engineers who have proven their expertise in II-VI materials through the research, development and production of highly efficient II-VI infrared sensors for the military and commercial markets.
Infrared sensors rely heavily on unique CdTe-based II-VI semiconductors to efficiently convert light into electricity. EPIR’s expertise in II-VI materials, under the leadership of Dr. Siva Sivananthan, has been proven over the past decade and is being transferred to next-generation solar cells and unique manufacturing techniques which will place the companies on the cutting edge of solar-based renewable energy technologies. Dr. Fikri Aqariden, senior research scientist and production manager at DRS Infrared Technologies in Dallas, Texas, said, “Dr. Sivananthan is acknowledged as the pioneer of the growth of II-VI semiconductor compounds on Si, and his knowledge is second to none in this field. Because of the vast importance of solar energy conversion to the future of the world, I am very excited to see his talent applied to the development of innovative solar energy technologies and to see the success that he is having in this domain.”
Sivananthan, the president of EPIR and the director of the Microphysics Laboratory (MPL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has pioneered the molecular beam epitaxial (MBE) growth of CdTe on Si since 1984 and is a recognized world leader in this field. MBE is the preeminent method for the growth of high quality thin films of semiconductors, such as CdTe, with the unprecedented microscopic control required for infrared detectors and high efficiency solar cells. Sivananthan remains a world expert on the growth of high quality CdTe on Si and more generally on the MBE growth of II-VI semiconductors such as CdTe, ZnTe and their alloys. EPIR’s knowledge, experience and expertise in the growth of CdTe and other II-VI semiconductors, which is on a par with or exceeds any other company in the world, has led the growth of CdTe on Si for the fabrication of infrared detectors. Now EPIR and Sunovia are partnered as one, to use CdTe to greatly enhance the efficiency of Si solar cells and to go even further to produce ultra high efficiency solar cells at a reduced price.
Their prowess in this area is unmatched and has been endorsed by the award of unprecedented congressional funds for the development of a manufacturing capability for CdTe on Si and the award of a patent for growing CdTe directly on a Si readout integrated circuit. The companies have a network of close collaborative relationships with the major Defense Department and industrial labs involved in infrared detection and imaging – the Army Research Laboratory, the Night Vision Electronic Sensors Directorate, BAE, Lockheed Martin, DRS, Raytheon, Rockwell, Texas Instruments and other laboratories around the world.