Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

Suntech’s chief technology officer, Stuart Wenham, says his company got the idea for the technology from old patent applications by an inventor named Fred Schmid. The patents were about to expire, so Suntech researchers set about figuring out how to make the ideas work, Wenham says. Schmid had developed a method for growing large crystals of sapphire and founded a company called Crystal Systems to commercialize the technology in the 1970s. He worked to apply the technology to making monocrystalline silicon but wasn’t successful.

BP’s technology also had roots in Schmid’s ideas. In 2005, a researcher named Nathan Stoddard, who had just finished graduate school, joined BP Solar’s team in Frederick, Maryland. He learned about Schmid’s work from a former employee at Crystal Systems, and quickly found a way to make it work with silicon. “Within six months of my starting at BP, the process was working in production-scale furnaces,” Stoddard says.

Suntech’s approach still produces some multicrystalline silicon along the sides of the cube—it can still be used, but is lower efficiency than the monocrystalline. Clark says ALD’s approach could yet be competitive because it does not produce multicrystalline silicon.

Gain the insight you need on energy at EmTech MIT.

Register today

4 comments. Share your thoughts »

Credit: AMG Idealcast Solar

Tagged: Energy, energy, solar, silicon solar cells

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me
×

A Place of Inspiration

Understand the technologies that are changing business and driving the new global economy.

September 23-25, 2014
Register »