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In This Issue
* Big Energy Storage in Thin Films
* Record CIGS Solar Cell Efficiency
* Computational Modeling
* Ways to See Through Paint
* New Path to Solar Energy
* New Alloys
* ToxRefDB
* Layered Graphene for Hydrogen Storage
* NASA Space Program
* First Solar Reaches Milestone
* DOE's ARPA-E National Conference
* Gold Nanoparticles
* Photovoltaic Cells Explosive Growth

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Comdel Delivers Highest Frequency and Power to Major Korean Solar Company 

Comdel recently supplied a major innovative Korean company in the solar industry with Comdel's CXH 50K, 40MHz generator.  The CXH is one of the highest frequency and power generators made for solar application.  The generator will be used in the production of glass type solar cells.  Learn more.

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HIPIMS Conference in Sheffield

International Conference on HIPIMS
Sheffield Hallam University
Sheffield, United Kingdom
July 5-7, 2010

Featuring Two SVC Tutorial Courses
Click the links for course description, topical outline and detailed syllabus

Thin Film Growth and Microstructure Evolution
(Joseph Greene)

Sputter Deposition in Manufacturing
(David Glocker)

Click here for More Details
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With the 2010 TechCon in Orlando, Florida in the books, SVC continues to forge ahead to provide its readership with the latest in our technology's news and latest developments - and also shed a little light on the world of science in general.  As the Society learned first-hand, our world can be an unpredictable and fascinating laboratory - affecting our lives and well-laid plans in unexpected ways.  However, it's the individual efforts of many curious and industrious people that keep our technology relevant, our industry stable, and our Society strong.  Read on to learn more about these people, their science, and how applications of vacuum technology affect our lives.

Big Energy Storage in Thin Films: New ultracapacitor material could be fabricated directly on chips and solar cells

By Katherine Bourzac, Technology Review, April 22, 2010

Energy storage devices called ultracapacitors can be recharged many more times than batteries, but the total amount of energy they can store is limited. This means that the devices are useful for providing intense bursts of power to supplement batteries but less so for applications that require steady power over a long period, such as running a laptop or an engine.

 Now researchers at Drexel University in Philadelphia have New Ultracapacitordemonstrated that it's possible to use techniques borrowed from the chip-making industry to make thin-film carbon ultracapacitors that store three times as much energy by volume as conventional ultracapacitor materials. While that is not as much as batteries, the thin-film ultracapacitors could operate without ever being replaced.

These charge-storage films could be fabricated directly onto RFID chips and the chips used in digital watches, where they would take up less space than a conventional battery. They could also be fabricated on the backside of solar cells in both portable devices and rooftop installations, to store power generated during the day for use after sundown. The materials have been licensed by Pennsylvania startup Y-Carbon.

(Click the image to read the full article on
Image: Min Heon

CIGS Record of 20.1% Efficiency Reported by Researchers at ZSW

By Mark Osborne, Daily News, April 29, 2010

The U.S. research institute NREL held the conversion efficiency record for copper, indium, gallium, and selenium (CIGS) solar cells for 16 years but has lost this accolade to scientists at the Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg, Germany (Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen ZSWResearch, ZSW). ZSW, based in Stuttgart, has demonstrated CIGS cell efficiency of 20.1% on a 0.5-square-centimetre cell. The Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg, Germany has confirmed the new results.
"This record is for thin-film technology in general and not just CIGS solar cells," noted Dr. Michael Powalla, member of the board and head of the photovoltaics division at ZSW. "It is the result of continuous systematic research which has been supported for years by the Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economics and the European Community. A major factor in achieving this top position was the close cooperation between basic research at the university, applied research at the ZSW, and production development at our industrial partner Würth Solar."

(Click the image to read the full article on

Energy Efficient Separations: Researchers Use Computational Modeling to Design Improved Membrane Technology
Georgia Tech Research News, Feb 15, 2010

Computational modeling tools developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology could accelerate development of a new type of MOF Membranemembrane technology that will boost the efficiency of energy-related gas separations.  The tools will help researchers identify the best candidate materials for use in new metal-organic framework (MOF) membranes now under development.

MOF membranes offer an alternative to more energy intensive processes for separating gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen and hydrogen.  The technology has generated significant interest because of the broad range of crystalline structures that can be synthesized, but development of new MOF membranes is still at an early stage.

"Metal-organic framework membranes will be useful for doing large-scale energy-related separations in an efficient way.  We are trying to accelerate their development to help move the world's energy economy toward a more sustainable path," said David Sholl, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.  "A lot of chemists are interested in developing these metal-organic frameworks, and we hope to provide a new approach to designing the membranes." 

(click the image for the full article on Image: Seda Keskin

Physicists Find Way to See Through Paint, Paper, and Other Opaque Materials
Science Daily, March 9, 2010

Materials such as paper, paint, and biological tissue are opaque because the light that passes through them is scattered in complicated and seemingly random ways. A new experiment conducted by researchers at the City of Paris Industrial Physics and Chemistry Higher Educational Institution (ESPCI) has shown that it's possible to focus light through opaque materials and detect objects hidden behind them, provided you know enough about the material.

The experiment is reported in the current issue of Physical Review Letters, and is the subject of Viewpoint in APS Physics  by Elbert van Putten and Allard Mosk of the University of Twente.

In order to demonstrate their approach to characterize opaque substances, the researchers first passed light through a layer of zinc oxide, which is a common component of white paints. By studying the way the light beam changed as it encountered the material, they were able to produce a numerical model called a transmission matrix, which included over 65,000 numbers describing the way that the zinc oxide layer affected light. They could then use the matrix to tailor a beam of light specifically to pass through the layer and focus on the other side. Alternatively, they could measure light emerging from the opaque material, and use the matrix to assemble of an image of an object behind it.

(click here to read the full article on

New Path to Solar Energy via Solid-State Photovoltaics
From Article Ant - March 30, 2010

A newly discovered path for the conversion of sunlight to electricity could brighten the future for photovoltaic technology. Researchers with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have found a new mechanism by which the photovoltaic effect can take place in semiconductor thin-films. This new route to energy production overcomes the bandgap voltage limitation that continues to plague conventional solid-state solar cells.

Lesker LogoThese piezoresponse force microscopy images of bismuth ferrite thin films show ordered arrays of 71 degree domain walls (top) and 109 degree doman walls (bottom). By changing the polarization direction of the bismuth ferrite, these domain walls give rise to the photovoltaic effect. (Image from Seidel, et. al.)

These nanoscale images of bismuth ferrite thin films show ordered arrays of 71 degree domain walls (top) and 109 degree doman walls (bottom). By changing the polarization direction of the bismuth ferrite, these domain walls give rise to the photovoltaic effect.

Working with bismuth ferrite, a ceramic made from bismuth, iron and oxygen that is multiferroic - meaning it simultaneously displays both ferroelectric and  ferromagnetic properties - the researchers discovered that the photovoltaic effect can spontaneously arise at the nanoscale as a result of the ceramic's rhombohedrally distorted crystal structure. Furthermore, they demonstrated that the application of an electric field makes it possible to manipulate this crystal structure and thereby control photovoltaic properties.

(click the image to read the full article on

New Alloys Key to Efficient Solar Energy and Lighting
Green Design and Manufacturing, March 22,2010

A recent advance by Arizona State University researchers in developing nanowires could lead to more efficient photovoltaic cells as well as better LEDs. ASU electrical engineers are working to improve quaternary alloy semiconductor nanowire materials.New Alloys Key

Nanowires are tens of nanometers in diameter and tens of microns in length. Quaternary alloys are made of semiconductors with four elements, often made by alloying two or more compound semiconductors. Semiconductors are the material basis for technologies such as solar cells, high-efficiency LEDs for lighting, and for visible and infrared detectors.

One of the most critical parameters of semiconductors that determine the feasibility for these technologies is the band gap. The band gap of a semiconductor determines, for example, if a given wavelength of sun light is absorbed or left unchanged by the semiconductor in a solar cell. Band gap also determines what color of light an LED emits. To make solar cells more efficient, it's necessary to increase the range of band gaps.

(click the image to read the full article on
Image: Green Design and Manufacturing

ToxRefDB: The Toxic Materials Database is Released to the Public

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made it US EPA Logoeasier to find chemical information online. EPA has released a database, called ToxRefDB, which allows scientists and the interested public to search and download thousands of toxicity testing results on hundreds of chemicals. ToxRefDB captures 30 years and $2 billion of testing results. More information is available at

Image: U.S. EPA
Layered Graphene Sheets Could be Used for Hydrogen Storage

GrapheneGraphene is a form of carbon made into sheets a single atom thick-now appears to be a base material for capturing hydrogen. This  research  was performed in a joint project with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Center for Neutron Research and the University of Pennsylvania. The findings suggest stacks of graphene oxide frame work GOF's layers could potentially store hydrogen safely for use in fuel cells and other applications.

Further information is at

Image: NIST

Thin-Film Sensor System Optimizes Forming Processes

April 19, 2010

In many industrial forming processes fluctuations in the process parameters lead to badly formed parts, tears or wrinkles. In order to improve cost-effectiveness in, for example, deep drawing and hydroforming, scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST and the Fraunhofer Institute for FraunhoferMachine Tools and Forming Technology IWU have, in collaboration with a consortium from industry, optimized the regulation of forming processes by means of tools equipped with an integrated thin-film sensor system. This is part of the ORUM project of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. During the forming process the universal sensor modules supply the process data required for dynamic on-line process control. An electronic unit evaluates the sensor signals and transmits them to the appropriate press controller.

Making high-quality products cost-effectively by deep drawing calls for a process which is error-free and of reproducible design. This is not possible without information relevant to the process being available in real time. This information coupled with the appropriate automatic control procedures makes dynamic process control possible. Currently this requirement is only inadequately met. As a rule information about the position and current shape of the workpieces is either not available at all during the forming process or can only be obtained with sufficient accuracy by expending a great deal of technical effort. The thin-film modules developed as part of the ORUM project are used for the direct dimensional monitoring of forming progress since the coating systems are in immediate contact with the workpiece which is to be formed.

The multifunctional thin-film sensor system has outstanding piezoresistive and tribological properties. This means that for the first time measurements can be taken in direct frictional contact with the workpiece. During the deep drawing process, the sheet metal moves gradually out of the contact areas of the individual sensor structures. The moment contact with a sensor structure is lost, a minimum level of sensor resistance is detected and this is registered by the measurement system.

(Click here to learn more at
Major Shift for NASA Space Program Away from Manned Space Exploration

The U.S. Space Program over many years has raced to send humans into space. Now with a major policy shift in Washington the President's 2011 NASA budget has terminated human space NASAexploration and has replaced it with a technology development program. This would be a radical change including commercial partners building new spacecraft. The Constellation space vehicle program will be cancelled. It is assumed that commercial companies will develop the future space vehicles. For example, SpaceX, Los Angeles, CA, is a commercial company developing the Falcon rocket which could someday be used to shuttle astronauts. More money will be available for commercial partners. Needless to say, there is considerable resistance to the new budget from U.S. Congress. Further details are in Charles Bolden, Jr. , NASA
Administrator, remarks to Congress:

2011 Budget details can be seen at NASA's web site:

Information about SpaceX can be seen at:


First Solar Become the First Solar Company to Produce 1GW of Thin Film Modules in One Year

First Solar Inc.(Tempe, AZ), announced it has manufactured First Solarand shipped more than 1 gigawatt (GW) of its CdTe thin film photovoltaic (PV) solar modules in 2009, becoming the first PV company to attain this production level in a single year. One GW of solar modules produces enough electricity to serve the needs of approximately 145,000 average American homes and saves roughly 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. First Solar increased its manufacturing capacity from approximately 75 megawatts (MW) per year at the beginning of 2007 to more than 1GW today.  

Click here for more details

Image: First Solar

DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Has its First National Conference

The new part of DOE, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) held its first national conference called the "Energy Innovation Summit" on energy research. The meeting attracted about 1,700 people  with 59% from industry, 21% form universities and 17% from government. Director Arun  Majumdar detailed APRA-E's funding history. The first round of funding in June 2009 was $150 million for innovative energy projects. Out of 3,700 concept papers only 37 finalists were selected. The second round of funding in December 2009 was $100 million for liquid fuels, batteries and electric vehicles. The third $100 million round in April 2010 focuses on grid scale electric al storage, advanced power converters and energy efficient cooling projects.

(For details click here to visit

Gold Nanoparticles Amplify the Detection Signal of Raman Spectroscopy

Gold NanoparticlesResearchers have shown that a Raman signal can be enhanced by using 55 nm gold particles coated with 2 nm silica or alumina film. A new enhancement technique was developed by Zhong Qun Tian, Xiamen University and Zhong Lin Wang of Georgia Institute of Technology. The technique is called Shell-Isolated Nanoparticles-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy or SHINERS. The technique enhances the signal with each particle behaving like an independent probe.  Such technology could lead to hand-helddevices which could be used for rapid chemical detection. The results are published in Nature (Letters) 464, pp392-395, 18 March, 2010.

Further information is at :

And the Z. L. Wang's Research Group at :   

Image: Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2010

Photovoltaic Cells on the Verge of Explosive Growth

By Tesuo Nozawa, Tech-On Newsletter, April 1, 2010

The day is coming fast when photovoltaic cells will finally leave the "incubator," spreading like wildfire. The spread of renewable energy purchasing systems and massive financial incentives have set the stage for solar cells in not only homes and condos, but in offices, factories and more as well.

"We will realize grid parity in photovoltaic cells as soon as we possibly can," says Toshishige Hamano, Representative Directors and Executive Vice Presidents of Sharp Corp. of Japan.

For companies and personnel involved in the new energy business, such as solar cells, "grid parity" has become top priority.

The term refers to bring the electricity cost from renewable energy sources (solar cells, wind power and the like) down to the level that electricity prices will be equivalent to the existing commercial power grid.

If grid parity is achieved with solar cells, for example, it would mean an increasing number of individuals and organizations would install photovoltaic power generating systems even without financial incentives. This would in turn lower the purchase and installation costs for solar cells even more, creating a positive feedback loop... and that could abruptly accelerate the speed of adoption for solar cells in the market. Solar cells are on the verge of leaving the incubator, and spreading like wildfire to everywhere the sun shines.

(Click here to read the full article on

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