Fayetteville Firm Nears Solar Cell Breakthrough

Silicon Solar Solutions of Fayetteville has developed a method of improving the efficiency of solar cells by 15 percent, and the patent for its technology has been moved from provisional to pending by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Silicon Solar Solutions is a Genesis Technology Incubator client at the University of Arkansas and an Innovate Arkansas client firm. It received a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation in December to further advance the technology, developed in partnership with fellow UA graduate business plan team Picasolar.

Silicon chief scientist Seth Shumate invented the self-aligned hydrogenated selective emitter for N-type solar cells, which increases efficiency. He serves on the Picasolar team and helped lead it to a win last month at the prestigious IBK Capital-Ivey Business Plan Competition at the University of Western Ontario. The team won $20,000 for first place.

Shumate and Silicon CEO Douglas Hutchings believe the emitter can save solar manufacturers millions of dollars in production costs.

“If successful, this approach represents the single largest technology leap in solar since 1974,” Hutchings said in a news release issued by the UA. “We have demonstrated it on lab-scale cells already. We’re all excited.”