PARC, A Xerox company, today announced it has been selected by the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) under the Micro-scale Optimized Solar-cell Arrays with Integrated Concentration (MOSAIC) Program. PARC will design and build a prototype micro-PV cell (or chiplet) printer with the potential to enable economical, high-volume manufacturing of micro-PV cell arrays.
"Similar to printing ink on paper, we're developing a new kind of printer that will print "chips as ink" (that we have also been developing at PARC), sand-sized chips in liquid that are electronically placed precisely on the surface," said Dr. Jeng Ping Lu. "This type of printing gives us a whole new way to think about making PV panels, especially as we develop and target this technology to support the MOSIAC program goal of developing light weight, low cost and high efficient concentrated PV system, using millions of tiny solar cells on a panel."
Leveraging its expertise in digital xerographic assembly, PARC will create a printer demonstration that uses ink composed of "chiplets" to digitally place and electrically interconnect chiplets. The printer will arrange the chiplets in a predefined, precise fashion. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the printer, the project team will investigate two types of backplanes (electrically connected PV arrays arranged on a surface): one with a single type of micro-PV cell, and one with at least two types of micro-PV cells.
To complete this project, PARC will work with Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) to develop a breakthrough digital manufacturing capability that will enable the fabrication of panel-sized micro-scale concentrated photovoltaic (micro-CPV) backplanes, overcoming the limitations of current pick-and-place processes. To support MOSAIC program goals, PARC will apply this method to micro-scaled photovoltaic (PV) components developed by SNL as the "inks," and will "print" a continuous micro-CPV substrates with digitally placed and interconnected PV cells. The micro-chiplet printer has the potential to push the assembly cost of micro-CPV systems down by orders of magnitude to make them cost-competitive with conventional PV to open new consumer mass-markets and applications.
About ARPA-E's MOSAIC Program
MOSAIC project teams will design technologies and concepts for a new class of cost-effective, high performance photovoltaic (PV) solar modules. These modules will use thousands of small lenses to concentrate light onto an array of PV cells to achieve higher solar-to-electricity conversion. These microscale concentrated PV (micro-CPV) technologies will be integrated into "flat plate" solar panels to improve their efficiency and cost. This micro-CPV approach addresses the constraints of conventional
CPV, which, while highly efficient, has not been widely adopted due to its high cost, large size, and expensive solar tracking systems. Project teams will address these limitations by developing innovative materials, micro-scale manufacturing techniques, panel architectures, and tracking schemes. By exploiting micro-CPV techniques, the teams aim to reduce system costs and dramatically improve flat plate PV efficiency - and thereby expand the market and geographic areas in which these technologies can operate successfully.
PARC, A Xerox company, is in the Business of Breakthroughs®. Practicing open innovation, we provide custom R&D services, technology, expertise, best practices, and intellectual property to Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies, startups, and government agencies and partners. We create new business options, accelerate time to market, augment internal capabilities, and reduce risk for our clients. Since its inception, PARC has pioneered many technology platforms - from the Ethernet and laser printing to the GUI and ubiquitous computing - and has enabled the creation of many industries. Incorporated as an independent, wholly owned subsidiary of Xerox in 2002, PARC today continues the research that enables breakthroughs for our clients' businesses.