Making the next leap in solar power manufacturing
Updated: Oct 1, 2020
BlueDot Photonics aims to lower the production cost of solar panels by 50% using a new high-throughput manufacturing process
November 18, 2019, [Seattle, WA] – BlueDot Photonics, a company focused on commercializing next-generation solar panels, announces being selected to receive a $1,000,000 award from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) to advance innovations in solar manufacturing. This project will accelerate the development of a new manufacturing process to produce high efficiency solar panels at a fraction of today’s costs.
Most commercial solar panels today are about 20% efficient at converting sunlight into electricity. Although more efficient technology exists, the costs of these alternatives have been too high for broad deployment. A new class of materials, known as perovskites, have great potential to solve this problem. But a cost-effective, scalable, and reproducible manufacturing process for perovskite materials has not been identified. The team at BlueDot have invented such a process.
“Cost is king in solar. And for the market to grow at its current rates, solar costs must continue to fall rapidly. The industry needs simple, scalable, and efficient approaches to produce panels. This project develops the technology to meet this need,” said Jared Silvia, CEO and Co-Founder of BlueDot.
Most of the focus on perovskite solar device production has been on what’s known as solution-processing. Perovskite inks are printed to make a working solar cell. Although theoretically capable of high production rates, solution processing is limited by materials compatibility, reproducibility at high rates, and the safe handling of often toxic solvents. BlueDot’s manufacturing process simplifies the process. Solvents are eliminated. BlueDot’s process takes perovskite powders, vaporizes them, and redeposits the material as high-quality thin films. The flexibility of the process means the design and performance of the solar device can be tuned for a specific customer need. And it should achieve high throughput, like the rates used to make food packaging and high-performance glass.
BlueDot Photonics was selected as a part of the Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2019 funding program, an effort to invest in new projects that will lower solar electricity costs, while working to boost solar manufacturing, reduce red tape, and make solar systems more resilient to cyberattack. BlueDot Photonics is one of several manufacturing innovation projects with early-stage product ideas that can lower solar costs and rapidly achieve commercialization, with an emphasis on projects that contribute to a strong U.S. solar manufacturing sector.
A spinoff of the University of Washington, BlueDot’s core technology was originally developed in the research lab of Prof. Daniel Gamelin. CoMotion, the University of Washington’s collaborative innovation hub supported BlueDot Photonics with intellectual property management and initial funding from the CoMotion Innovation Gap Fund and the Commercialization Fellows Program.
BlueDot Photonics is driven to realize terawatt scale deployment of solar power in the next decade and is grateful for the support and backing of the Department of Energy in its mission.
About BlueDot Photonics BlueDot Photonics is accelerating the deployment of next-generation solar technology by developing simple, cost-effective solutions to improve solar panel performance and durability. BlueDot is based in Washington State and is a spin-out of the University of Washington. Learn more at bluedotphotonics.com
About the Solar Energy Technologies Office The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research and development to improve the affordability, reliability, and performance of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more at energy.gov/solar-office.