In the broadest sense, with over 24 MW of installed on-site solar generation capacity, which is more than many large cities, Arizona State University’s commitment to solar is compelling. The Solar Fab Core Facility historically launched in 2009 as the Solar Power Lab; first silicon was realized in 2010.
The Solar Fab at ASU is housed in the MacroTechnology Works building in the ASU Research Park. Total laboratory area is 9073 square feet which is comprised of 6370 sq ft of class 100/1000 cleanroom space, 2097 sq ft of H occupancy, and 606 sq ft feet of dry lab space.
From the beginning, the lab was designed with industrial compatibility in mind. Although fabrication on smaller substrates or even pieces is possible, the native substrate form factor is currently 156 mm silicon. As the lab continues to evolve, new equipment is being selected to maintain compatibility with evolving solar manufacturing sizes (e.g., M12 = 295 mm diagonal).
Supported technology thrusts are selected to reinforce industrial relevance both now and in the future; considering solely silicon technology, architectures researched include Al BSF, PERC, SHJ, and various tandems. Irrespective of architecture, the lab has all the necessary processing equipment for raw silicon to serve as the input, and completed, characterized, and tested solar cells generated as the output. Not to diminish the importance of non-silicon efforts, the Solar Fab also supports III-V and II-VI activities.
Further, both for reliability testing and educational purposes, the Solar Fab can fabricate modules, usually single-cell or 2x2 format, but a few 36-cell modules have also been made. Core reliability testing such as damp heat exposure and thermal cycling is available in the Solar Fab.
The vision for the Solar Fab Core Facility is to thematically expand on the legacy of the QESST ERC (Engineering Research Center) to support the broader PV community in all facets, notably including education/outreach, research and development, and industrial interaction and support.
The Solar Fab is well entrenched in and supported by Arizona State University. Indeed, solar is a core competency for the university, and ASU houses the biggest domestic university research lab in solar energy technology.