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1366 Technologies

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1366 Technologies is a company based in Bedford, Massachusetts that has developed a technique to produce silicon wafers by casting them in their ultimate shape directly in a mold, rather than the prevailing standard method in which wafers are cut from a large ingot. The companys management predicts that the new approach will be able to produce wafers at half the cost of current methods. The companys name is a reference to the solar constant, representing the watts of solar energy that hits each square meter of the surface of the earth. To manufacture multi-crystalline silicon wafers, the building blocks of solar cells, at half the cost. The company uses cast Silicon sheets, rather than cut Silicon ingots. The company used a $4 million grant obtained from the United States Department of Energys Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program in December 2009 to fund research over an 18-month period. Grants from ARPA-E are designed to provide money to relatively small projects offering the potential for high-payoff results in fostering advanced techniques. 1366 Technologies was able to announce eight months into the grant period that it had achieved success in its casting technology, in which molten silicon is poured directly into a mold to produce wafers in their final form, a square 6 inches (15 cm) on each side that is 200 micrometres thick and are then extracted from the mold using a proprietary technique to ensure that the wafer doesn't break while being removed from the mold. In traditional methods, wafers of this size are cut from a large single ingot or crystal, in an approach that leaves as much as half of the original silicon ingot as waste.

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