Direct Wafer Technology
A Better Way to Manufacture the Building Blocks of Solar Cells
Since the 1970s, silicon wafers have been made from sawing ingots, large blocks of crystalline silicon, formed in furnaces. These ingots are cut, polished, and sliced into wafers. It’s during this final step where much of the raw material is wasted, ground into dust or “kerf” during sawing. This approach imposes high operating and capital costs, a result of a multi-step, energy and carbon intensive process. 1366’s Direct Wafer furnace replaces this process with one, elegant machine. The result is the world’s lowest cost, high performance wafer with a dramatically lower carbon footprint.
Ultra Low Cost, Single Junction Solar
Above all else, solar competes on cost. The Direct Wafer process offers the world’s lowest wafer production cost which translates immediately to cell and module competitiveness.
Tandem: The World's Highest Efficiency Solar
Tandem solar modules are the most significant innovation in solar since it was first invented in Bell Labs in 1954. Tandem devices increase conversion efficiency by stacking two solar cells, made of different semiconductor materials, on top of each other. Silicon is the ideal material for the bottom cell in a tandem configuration. An extremely low cost silicon cell, powered by Direct Wafer technology, makes tandem economically feasible.
A Better Class of Wafers at Half the Cost
The Direct Wafer process moves the silicon wafer from commodity to strategic advantage by introducing wafer properties unachievable with conventional technologies.
Lowest Carbon Footprint
By eliminating manufacturing steps, sawing and silicon waste, The Direct Wafer® process requires just 1/3 the energy of traditional wafer manufacturing.
With 22% efficiency entitlement for single junction cells, 1366's wafers will also power a tandem module future with 27+% efficiency
Any Wafer Size and Thickness
Working at the melt level and local control of wafer growth opens up new possibilities for wafer geometry, optimized for cell architectures
Double the Product
Per kg of Silicon
Removing the ingot step means no sawing and double the wafer output for every kg of silicon.
“Tandem solar modules are likely the next game changer in solar and have a chance to disrupt the industry dominance of silicon-only cells. We invested in 1366 because it has a path to being the first to commercialize the tandem technology.”
– Breakthrough Energy Ventures
21st Century Solar Manufacturing
To make a wafer directly from molten silicon and skip ingot production, we invented a new furnace to replace the approaches that date back to the 1950s and 1970s.
The Direct Solidification Furnace (multi), invented in the 1970s, casts silicon into a 800+ kg ingot that must be sawn to produce wafers.