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Singapore – February 14, 2014: REC, a leading global supplier of solar energy solutions, is joining forces with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in the development of an improved hydrogen passivation process that was first discovered at UNSW.
Standard multi-crystalline silicon cells currently have a maximum efficiency of around 17.5% – 18%. According to Professor Stuart Wenham the new technique, patented by his UNSW team, is expected to produce efficiencies of between 19% and 20% once fully developed.
“We are excited by the opportunity to collaborate with UNSW,” said Øyvind Hasaas, President and CEO, REC, during a recent visit to the Sydney based university. “REC has a long history in silicon wafer and cell manufacturing. By combining UNSW’s breakthrough technology with our strong background knowledge of multicrystalline silicon wafers and solar cells, we expect to be able to speed up the development of this new technology.”
As a world record holder in silicon solar cell efficiency, UNSW is a strong partner for REC. Professor Wenham says his team has worked out how to control the charge state of hydrogen atoms in silicon, thereby increasing the ability to generate electricity, something other research teams have previously not been able to do.
“We have seen a 10,000 times improvement in the mobility of the hydrogen and we can control the hydrogen so it chemically bonds to defects and contaminants, making these inactive,” he said. This improves the quality of the silicon, which in turn translates into higher cell efficiency.
This breakthrough technology has been internationally recognized when Professor Wenham   was recently awarded the prestigious £300,000 A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize from the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) in London.
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