The growth in solar energy demand over the past decade is unprecedented. It has created new markets and exploding sales for solar panel manufacturers across the globe. However, this growth in demand has outpaced the advancement of solar panel technologies. As a result, solar panel manufacturers in a crowded marketplace are forced to compete on lower margins with similar products. Until now.
At Leading Edge Equipment Technologies, we’re empowering solar panel manufacturers with a revolutionary new drop-in manufacturing technology to produce kerfless, single-crystal silicon wafers. Current silicon wafer production involves wire-sawing large silicon ingots, chemical etching, and energy-intensive furnaces. This results in excessive waste, high energy costs, and reduced wafer efficiency. We use a breakthrough technique in crystal growth to produce silicon wafers for 50 percent less than current single-crystal solutions and with higher efficiency. A true double-win.
Single-crystal silicon wafers are traditionally produced by wire-sawing silicon ingots. Sawing consumes expensive diamond-coated wire, requires costly chemicals for etching damaged wafers, and results in 40 percent of the silicon ingot being wasted as non-recyclable saw dust called “kerf.” This process is inherently expensive. And, after 70 years of refinement, there is limited opportunity for sawing method improvements. Leading Edge’s Floating Silicon Method™ produces silicon wafers in a single step and without sawing. Our silicon wafer manufacturing process drops into existing manufacturing lines and reduces wafer production costs by 50 percent over traditional methods.
Additionally, oxygen contamination in silicon wafers limits solar cell efficiency and is a natural and unavoidable side effect of traditional silicon ingot production. Leading Edge’s technology creates silicon ribbons with minimal levels of oxygen contamination. Silicon wafers produced with our drop-in technology boast a power increase of seven percent for existing solar panels.
Rick has over 30 years of developing original semiconductor growth furnaces and scaling production and sales in Asia. Most recently as the CTO of ARC Energy (sapphire furnace manufacturer), Rick oversaw the development of an original tool, built a US-based supply chain and assembly line, started a customer support office in Shanghai, and generated a $500M+ backlog of contracts.
Nathan has developed, from concept to pilot production, three independent silicon wafer technologies for the solar industry. First, he invented and brought a cast-mono process to production for BPSolar. Second, he was part of the original 1366 Technologies team that architected the kerfless Direct Wafer platform. Most recently, he invented and brought to a pilot low-oxygen single crystal 450mm bulk technology for SolarWorld.
As the founder of Leading Edge and multiple successful startups like Sandymount Technologies, Alison has a strong track record in early-stage company development. She also has extensive experience with developing original company business plans, customer engagement, and commercialization plans. Alison did her MIT graduate work under Professor Ely Sachs (inventor of String Ribbon and 1366’s Direct Wafer technology) and worked previously for 1366 as an equipment engineer.
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