Air Products has been selected to receive more than $1.5m from the US Department of Energy (DOE) in order to develop materials that could potentially result in significant cost savings for thin-film photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers.

The grant, which has been given under DOE’s Solar Energy Technology Programme, will see Air Products using its expertise in etch and deposition science, gained from more than 35 years’ experience in the global electronics industry.

The objective of the DOE programme is to identify and accelerate the development of PV processes expected to improve the domestic solar market.

Air Products’ main focus will be on developing and validating an advanced radio frequency plasma chemical vapour deposition process.
The project is among 24 new solar energy technology projects receiving $22m in DOE funds as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding.

“Once developed and commercialised, these materials could be used by thin-film PV manufacturers, whose production is expected to exceed 5 GW in the coming years,” said Jeff Handelman, Air Products’ General Manager of Photovoltaics.

“If 5 GW worth of thin-film silicon manufacturing were to adopt these additives and save more than $0.10 per watt, it would save the PV industry about $600m annually.”