There’s new startup that has unleashed an efficient method for using a particle accelerator to slice microscopically thin silicon wafers that cut the cost involved in the manufacture of solar panels by a whopping 60%, this is made possible with the elimination of waste material by 50 to 100 times.
Having embarked on a Regulation A+ crowdfunding campaign back in July, Rayton Solar received the SEC qualification through its campaign sometime last month. The campaign has garnered $7 million in equity reservation investments. The company has received and additional $844,000 from crowdfunding following the SEC’s qualification.
The host of the science television series Bill Nye The Science Guy made a visit to Rayton’s Santa Monica in California where he put his name on the company by producing a video explaining the entirety of the process of using a particle accelerator to manufacture silicon wafers.
The startup company was founded back in 2012 after Yakub who was a design engineer at the UCLA Particle Beam Physics Laboratory realized that there was a need for less expensive silicon wafers which are used in the manufacture of solar panels.
Yakub was running a solar installation company at the time, the company heavily relied on a federal grant program that strived to make installing solar cost effective. He, therefore, decided to invent a cheaper and more efficient solar cell since the grant program was due to expire.
Crystalline silicon is the conventional raw material used by the most conventional solar cells today. Despite the fact that silicon is the second most abundant element on the face of the earth, it must be refined in a furnace at temperatures as high as 1,800-degrees Celsius and undergo other expensive chemical processes before reaching the solar grade purity of 99.999% that allows it to collect light that’s turned into electricity.
Diamond saws are then used to slice ingots from the silicon crystal to be used in solar cells, which constitute solar panels. The process can turn as much as half of the material into dust and the silicon wafers produced are up to 200 microns.
Fortunately, Yakub has patented a method for slicing silicon ingots using a proton particle accelerator and hence he’s able to produce a wafer just three microns thick and with no wasted materials.
The proton particle accelerator costs about $2 million as indicated by Yakub. However, the added expense should not bother manufacturers since they’ll see at least a 60% reduction in silicon wafer manufacturing cost.
Yakub pointed out that one particle accelerator is capable of manufacturing six megawatts of solar cells per year, that’s enough to equip about 1,000 homes with solar panels.
Thin-film silicon cells are currently being used to make a small number of solar panels. The process involved is called vapor deposition which is slow and more expensive compared to the standard silicon crystalline production.
Yakub has plans underway to run the fund-raising campaign over the next year and then license the particle accelerator technology to solar panel manufacturing. This will greatly reduce the cost involved.