Natcore Technology Inc. is the exclusive licensee of a revolutionary new room-temperature thin-film growth technology, developed at Houston’s Rice University, which is suitable for a variety of silicon oxides and wafers, and which utilizes a liquid phase deposition (LPD) process.
The company announced today an agreement with a Chinese partnership consisting of two major firms and Zhuzhou Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone (Zhuzhou), with whom the Company has signed a letter of intent to form a new company to be called Natcore China. Natcore China will maintain rights to manufacture anti-reflective (AR) film growth equipment and materials, with NXT retaining 55% ownership while the Chinese partnership will own the remaining 45%.
The revolutionary new technology has wide ranging applications, but the most exciting is the ability to mass produce super efficient tandem silicon solar cells which will be cheaper and more robust than existing products. The LPD technology is able to use a room-temperature chemical solution to apply an AR coating, rendering the process both cheaper and cleaner than existing methods, which use a vacuum and the high temperatures of a furnace, a process requiring substantially more energy and silicon. Another big plus for the technology is its ‘green’ profile, since pollution is a hot-button issue in China right now – a fact that makes this new technology very attractive for reasons other than its ability to create a superior product at reduced cost.
President and CEO of NXT Chuck Provini called the agreement a “major milestone” for the Company, and noted that it would satisfy funding requirements for remaining production/R&D costs, while also opening up doors to a vast “network of end-users in China” where the solar market is currently booming.
Initial funding of $3M will largely come from the Chinese partnership ($2.5M), with NXT contributing the remaining $500k. The drafting of a formal, definitive agreement based on the letter of intent is underway, with finalization subject to approval from regulatory authorities.
Chairman and co-founder of NXT Brien Lundin hailed this Chinese joint venture as the realization of a crucial part of NXT’s envisioned long-term business plan, and indicated his pleasure that Zhuzhou was able to fund all remaining development while giving NXT majority ownership over the joint venture (and direct access to what Lundin called a “ready-made solar cell customer network”).
The technology will be incorporated into existing manufacturing processes until such time as the new film growth equipment is ready.