Thursday, August 21, 2008

IBM, Tokyo Ohka Kogyo to work on thin film solar

Original Article

The companies plan to develop processes for the production of copper indium gallium selenide solar cell modules.

Armonk, N.Y.-based International Business Machines (NYSE: IBM) announced today that it has teamed up with Japan's Tokyo Ohka Kogyo to work on thin film solar technology.

IBM said it would work with Tokyo Ohka Kogyo, a semiconductor process company, to jointly develop processes, materials, and equipment for the production of copper indium gallium selenide, or CIGS, solar cell modules.

"Our goal is to develop more efficient photovoltaic structures that would reduce the cost, minimize the complexity, and improve the flexibility of producing solar electric power," said Tze-Chiang Chen, VP of science and technology at IBM Research.

"Now, IBM's advanced technology combined with TOK's expertise in equipment design and manufacture, have the potential to broaden the use of alternative energy sources."

IBM joins a growing list of firms looking at flexible photovoltaic technology.

Last month, Abu Dhabi-based Masdar said it was entering the business of making and selling thin film photovoltaic solar products (see Masdar getting into thin film solar business).

IBM said its research group has developed new, non-vacuum, solution-based manufacturing processes for CIGS solar cells and is targeting efficiencies around 15 percent and higher.

Big Blue said current thin film product efficiencies vary from around 6 percent to less than 12 percent.

Yoichi Nakamura, president and CEO of Tokyo Ohka Kogyo, said, "We believe that this joint development is a great opportunity to expand the applications of our technologies into the photovoltaic industry, bringing a new solid business block for us."

Tokyo Ohka Kogyo supplies photoresists for semiconductor, flat panel display, printed wiring board and packaging.

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