Fayetteville's Silicon Solar Solutions Included in DOE SunShot Program

Fayetteville's Silicon Solar Solutions Included in DOE SunShot Program

Silicon Solar Solutions of Fayetteville has been awarded $500,000 to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy's prestigious SunShot Initiative

The DOE announced Tuesday that it has awarded $12 million to fund 17 projects across the country as part of its 2013 SunShot Incubator 8 program. The projects are from startups working on breakthrough technologies in photovoltaics. 

The application for the SunShot award was funded using a Technology Transfer Assistance Grant from the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority. As part of the project, Silicon Solar will further develop technology commercialized by Picasolar, in which it owns majority interest. It is the first Arkansas company to receive a SunShot award.

The Picasolar technology increases the efficiency of solar cells. Both Silicon Solar, an Innovate Arkansas client firm, and Picasolar are University of Arkansas startups.

The University of Arkansas will host a press conference to announce the recognition Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. at the Innovation Center on the campus of its Arkansas Research & Technology Park in Fayetteville. Gov. Mike Beebe is scheduled to attend. 

"This award is incredibly exciting as it is a huge step towards getting a technology developed in Arkansas into the largest segment of the solar industry," said Silicon Solar president Douglas Hutchings.

"It is an honor to have received such a prestigious award and it is testament to the great work the entire team is doing. It is exciting to think that an Arkansas-developed technology could be what makes solar cheaper than traditional energy sources in Arkansas and around the globe."

Hutchings said the goal of the project is to prove the technology on industrial cells, and he hopes that can lead to Arkansas-based manufacturing of the equipment.

"We have always had the audacity to dream big and this award will enable us to prove our award-winning technology on commercial solar cells," said Silicon Solar/Picasolar CTO Seth Shumate, who is the technology's primary inventor with Hutchings and Hafeez Mohammed. 

"This is a major step towards solving a $5 billion problem in the $32 billion solar industry."

In 2011, before the Picasolar technology was developed, Hutchings and Shumate were named to Inventors Digest's list of top new inventors for their work with Silicon Solar to reduce the cost of manufacturing solar cells.

Below is a SunShot project description from DOE

Silicon Solar Solutions ($500,000)
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Silicon Solar Solutions, in partnership with Georgia Tech and Roth & Rau, is developing a post-manufacturing hydrogen treatment to optimize the emitter of n-type solar cells resulting in improved conversion efficiency and reduced silver gridlines. The technology, commercialized as Picasolar, has shown 15% relative efficiency improvements while using one-third less silver grid lines in the lab. The goal of this project is to demonstrate the technology on commercial solar cells.