European Commission
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Description of the organisation

The Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (imec) is one of the largest independent R&D centers worldwide in the field of nano-electronics. Imec has nearly 2000 employees and is known for its broad coverage of nano-electronic technologies, its balance of basic research and application-oriented research, its unique infrastructure and its independent character.
The PV department within imec performs research on new materials, concepts and pathways for photovoltaic devices as a renewable energy source and as an enabling technology to ensure energy autonomy. Imec focuses on crystalline-silicon wafer-based solar cells, thin-film solar cells (chalcopyrites, kesterites) and organic and perovskite solar cells. With its partners, imec works on improving the efficiency, the industrial manufacturability, and the cost reduction of a number of advanced technologies for the coming decade. Imec’s PV department is a worldwide-acknowledged leader in the development of industrially relevant pilot processes for silicon solar cells on thin silicon substrates.
The crystalline-Si solar cell group of IMEC is involved in this project. This group uses a dedicated pilot line for crystalline silicon cells. Research in this group covers both short-term activities such as process improvements that can be immediately applied in the industry, and medium-term activities such as the work performed within this project.

Main contact

Ivan Gordon

+32 16 28 82 49




Role in the Project

Imec is working within this project on the development of 40-micron thin foils based on porous silicon and epitaxial thickening. For this purpose, imec is developing within WP6 large-area porous-silicon layers that act simultaneously as seed layers for silicon epitaxy and as detachment layers for separating the epitaxial silicon foils from the parent substrate. The main goal is to achieve high-quality epitaxial silicon foils exhibiting large minority carrier lifetimes in combination with close to 100% detachment yield of the silicon foils from their parent substrate. Imec is also working on the demonstration of the re-usability of the parent substrate to produce multiple epitaxial foils from the same silicon substrate. Simultaneously we are developing new processes within WP7 to make such thin layers into highly-efficient solar cells with a high yield.  Here the focus is on achieving sufficient light confinement within the epitaxial layers and developing processes for junction formation, passivation and metallization that are compatible with the use of ultra-thin epitaxial silicon foils.


Key people involved

Dr Ivan Gordon obtained his PhD in the field of novel magnetic materials for sensor applications from the University of Leuven in February 2002. He started to work at imec in June 2003, where he is currently leading the Silicon solar cell and module group, working on crystalline-silicon wafer-based solar cells, thin-film silicon solar cells, and advanced module concepts for ultra-thin c-Si wafer-based cells. Since 2008, he is associate editor for the international scientific journal Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells. Since 2011, he is also associate editor for the IEEE Journal on Photovoltaics. He has authored and co-authored more than 180 journal and conference papers, has an h-factor of 23 and more than 1800 citations (numbers of May 2015). He was the scientific coordinator of the FP7 project “PolySiMode” and has been WP and SP leader in various other FP5, FP6 and FP7 projects.



Kris Van Nieuwenhuysen obtained her degree in engineering in 2000. She then joined the Si solar cell group of IMEC, where she is the main expert in Si epitaxial CVD processes for solar cell fabrication. She was the main responsible for the realization of the >16% efficient full epitaxial solar cell at IMEC. She developed several epi processes both in low-pressure and atmospheric pressure CVD systems. She was WP leader in several FP7 projects dealing with thin Si solar cells such as ThinSi and R2M-Si.

Valerie Depauw defended her PhD in 2009 on epitaxy-free thin film monocrystalline solar cells, developing a unique solar-cell process on transferable micron-thin Si layers fabricated by controlled porosification of silicon, “epifree”. She received the “young scientist award” of the E-MRS that same year. She is still working on layer-transfer solar cells, including thicker epitaxially grown films, and is also developing nanoimprint lithography for these thin cells. Besides, she has expertise in various methods for bonding and handling of thin substrates. Her competences in both thin-film solar cells and nanoimprint lithography are of perfect relevance to this project. She is currently the project coordinator of the EC FP7 project PhotoNVoltaics.



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