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Twin Creeks Technologies: A New Era in Thin Crystalline Wafers
Twin Creeks Technologies develops manufacturing equipment that dramatically reduces the cost of solar modules, sensors, LEDs and other solid-state devices. The key is thinness: wafers produced on Twin Creeks’ Hyperion manufacturing system are less than one-tenth as thick as conventional wafers.
With thin wafers manufacturers can produce more of their products with less raw material and less capital equipment. That means crystalline solar panels that sell for nearly 50 percent less than conventional panels and new generations of inexpensive semiconductors.Meet the Hyperion 3. Note for scale the computer & desk alongside. The large beams on top of the tool are actually a special crane-lift rig necessary for such a giant piece of equipment.
Interesting and informative video in this page, can't link directly to the video.
Hyperion - A Proton Knife
Hyperion, a manufacturing system developed by Twin Creeks Technologies, solves the problem of thick wafers with a technique called Proton Induced Exfoliation (PIE). In PIE, high-energy protons (or hydrogen ions) are embedded into “donor” wafers — standard wafers of silicon, germanium or other single-crystal materials— where they form a uniform layer beneath the surface of the donor. The physical attributes of hydrogen, combined with the conditions created by Hyperion, permit the ions to penetrate the surface of the donor wafer without changing its inherent properties and characteristics.
Watch the video to see Hyperion 3 and how Proton Induced Exfoliation (PIE) works.
When heated, the ions then lift--or exfoliate—a uniform, ultra-thin layer called a lamina from the donor wafer. The lamina becomes a production wafer and can be processed into thin solar cells or semiconductor devices. To use an analogy, the ions act like a scalpel and carve thin, identical and functional wafers from the donor.
A single donor wafer can be reused repeatedly to create multiple laminae. Twin Creeks has lifted 14 laminae from a single donor wafer in its labs with Hyperion and produced solar cells on ten laminae lifted from a single donor wafer.
While the ultra-thin wafers produced with Hyperion contain only a fraction of the material required for a standard wafer, the solar cells, LEDs or devices produced from the Hyperion lamina provide similar or better levels of performance as devices made from conventional “fat” wafers.
More devices are literally made with far less materials.
Trimming The Fat From Factories
Hyperion has the potential to make your single-crystal wafer facilities up to 90% more efficient and reduce your demand for other wafer manufacturing equipment. A solar-factory based around Hyperion can produce cells for less than 40 cents a watt, or nearly half of the price of conventional systems today.
For semiconductor manufacturers, Hyperion can dramatically reduce the back-grinding and wafer thinning process steps in CMOS sensors and 3D packaging operations. With Hyperion, you can design a factory to suit the needs of the semiconductors being produced, not the mechanical shortcomings of conventional wafers.
Although others have experimented with producing thin wafers, Hyperion is the only production-ready system that can produce thin lamina in volume today. The system works because it operates at high voltage and high current, an unusual combination. High voltages are essential for deeply embedding ions while high current is important for the high throughput needed in modern manufacturing.
A single Hyperion 3 system, our commercial-scale manufacturing tool, can process over 1.5 million thin wafers per year, enough for more than 6 megawatts worth of solar cells. While Twin Creeks will initially concentrate on silicon wafers, Hyperion can be employed to produce thin crystalline wafers made from gallium arsenide, germanium, and other materials.
Complete Hyperion 3 systems are available for shipment.
Hyperion’s Value Proposition in Solar
A Moore's Law for Solar
To become competitive with conventional grid power, the cost of solar power—including modules, electronics, and installation--will need to drop to $1 per watt and the cost of modules will have to drop to 50 cents a watt. It can’t be done with conventional technologies.
Hyperion helps solar manufacturers achieve these milestones profitably by cutting the materials and equipment needed to make crystalline silicon wafers and modules. Many refer to thinning wafers as the “Moore’s Law of Solar.” Benefits include:
Reduced Cell Manufacturing Costs - Solar cells produced with Hyperion thin Si processing are nearly 50% less expensive to manufacture.
Reduced Capital Expenses – Hyperion makes your existing investments in polysilicon, ingot growing and wafering equipment up to 90% more efficient. If you need to expand, you can count on a 50% reduction in capital to make the same number of wafers.
Predictable Si costs - By consuming fewer materials per module, manufacturers are less exposed to swings in commodity prices. Manufacturers can better insulate themselves from fluctuations in spot and contract prices for silicon and other materials.
Flexible Format Cells - Solar modules produced with Hyperion thin Si lamina are bendable, allowing manufacturers to package solar directly into roofing materials to reduce packaging, installation and shipping costs.