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The Man Who Saw TomorrowThe Life and Inventions of Stanford R. Ovshinsky$
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Lillian Hoddeson and Peter Garrett

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780262037532

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262037532.001.0001

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Solar Energy: Working at the Edge of Feasibility (1979–2007)

Solar Energy: Working at the Edge of Feasibility (1979–2007)

(p.171) 8 Solar Energy: Working at the Edge of Feasibility (1979–2007)
The Man Who Saw Tomorrow

Lillian Hoddeson

Peter Garrett

The MIT Press

Ovshinsky was not the inventor of thin-film amorphous silicon solar cells, but under his direction ECD greatly improved their efficiency and dramatically lowered their cost through Ovshinsky’s invention of a system for mass-producing the cells “roll-to-roll” in a continuous process. While Ovshinsky conceived of this process, it was the job of his talented staff to solve the incredibly challenging engineering problems involved in roll-coating the multi-layered solar panels without cross-contamination. Over nearly three decades, ECD scientists built a series of progressively larger solar cell production machines delivering higher and higher annual power wattage (eventually 30 megawatts), drawing on support first from ARCO and later from Sohio, Sharp, Canon, Sovlux, and Bekaert. ECD’s United Solar division eventually became the leading US producer of thin-film solar panels.

Keywords:   amorphous silicon, thin-film solar cells, roll-to-roll coating, Canon, Bekaert, United Solar

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