A start-up in Colorado, based in Golden reckons that it has the answer to cheaper silicon manufacturing that can seriously compete with electricity from coal or gas. The idea is to move away from the conventional silicon solar cells that dominate today’s PV installations using crystalline silicon. Ampulse thinks that the high efficiency of the crystalline silicon silicon can be coupled with thin-film fabrication to reduce to the cost of solar to around 50 cents or (34p) per watt.
Conventional crystalline-silicon solar fabrication is expensive and vastly time consuming, energy intensive, and largely inefficient. Silicon-rich gas is heated to 1,400 °C to make huge crystals or ingots that are then sliced into very thin wafers. In this top-down process it takes several days and must waste left behind is utterly useless. However using vapour deposition Ampulse grow silicon crystals on a flexible metal foil which means much less waste.