This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
Partnering with National Labs Brings Cutting-Edge Technology to Market
In 2008, Innovalight, a solar start-up from Sunnyvale, California, and DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) scientists teamed up to answer a game-changing question for potential investors: does Innovalight's Silicon Ink actually work?
The findings: Silicon Ink delivered a low-cost, 7% increase in power output for a typical 15%-efficient solar cell.
Some background: Most of the billions of solar cells made each year rely on distributing exact concentrations of dopants (impurities) throughout the cells to create electric fields. As a liquid, Silicon Ink has the unique ability to suspend silicon nanoparticles evenly in a solution, but Innovalight needed to prove that Silicon Ink could deliver dopant concentrations to the right locations without spreading everywhere or overflowing.
"They needed to prove this to their investors to show that their company was the best at doing this," NREL scientist Kirstin Alberi explained. "They didn't know how to go about proving this, and that’s where we were able to help." See the Energy Blog post.