Ritsumeikan University developed a new technology to halve the production cost of solar panel in collaboration with Tool Bank that is a venture company stemming from the university and Crystal Optics that specializes in ultraprecision polishing. The new technology made it possible to build 2.5 times more panels than the existing technology. The three organizations plan to put the technology into practical use in two years.
What they developed is a semiconductor processing technology that uses a chemical solution and cutting technique combined with extra-fine wire. A solar panel is built by cutting a lump of silicon into many layers, and a sliced thin silicon film is processed. The silicon film sliced by the new technology is about 60 micrometers thick, less than half of the thickness realized by the existing technology. The processing speed will remain unchanged.