Home

Efficiency without the „kerf“

NexWafe uses the Kerfless Wafer Technology for the production of monocrystalline silicon wafers. Our EpiWafers are a drop-in replacement for Cz wafers in solar cell production. We will supply them at an unprecedented price.

„A game changer.
That’s the best attribute I can imagine for EpiWafers.“

About Us

Opening new frontiers in solar power

NexWafe takes  the next step in photovoltaic wafer technology. Our unique process gives us an unbeatable competitive advantage over other technologies. To the benefit of our customers.

The key factor

Up to now silicon wafers have made up to around 40 percent of the costs of a solar module and were therefore the most costly single components. We use Kerfless Wafer Technology, which is based on chemical vapour-phase epitaxy to achieve enormous material and energy savings during wafer manufacturing. In this way we are able to provide high quality wafers for high efficiency solar cells, at significantly lower cost than conventional silicion wafers produced by the Cz method – a significant breakthrough for the entire industry.

From a reliable source

NexWafe was founded in 2015, as a spinoff of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE). We are building a semi-automatic pilot production in Freiburg, Germany, and, as a next step, a production facility for mass production of EpiWafers.

Launched from a pole

NexWafe has strong corporate partners: Capable investors, experienced advisors and the worldwide best R&D and technology partners leverage our forces to the benefit and strength of the company.

„What do customers want?
High efficiency, uncompromised yield, low cost, and, above all, no modifications to their production lines.
Our EpiWafer can fulfil all.“

Context

Game-changing technology

NexWafe’s EpiWafer technology is a highly innovative process providing the solar industry, a fast-growing multi-billion euro market, with fresh impetus.

Technology changes with time

Silicon photovoltaics, after half a century of process optimization still the predominant solar technology, has managed to reduce cost of PV power dramatically. Already since a couple of years this cost reduction stagnated, significant future reduction potential is not in sight. Complex processing and high material losses are the reason for it:

Ultra-pure silicon is produced, then broken into pieces, molten in a crucible and mono-crystalline ingots are pulled from the melt. After this ingot pulling the ingots are cut into bricks and then polished and finally sawn into wafers. More than half of the valuable silicon material is lost during this process, carrying with it enormous losses of energy spent for its production.

New, innovative approaches are therefore essential for continuing cost reduction to foster further success of silicon photovoltaics.

Groundbreaking innovation

The EpiWafer technology eliminates five of these typical process steps and at the same time it prevents the production of scrap. Highly efficient monocrystalline silicon wafers are directly produced in a reliable high quality from a gaseous source by means of only one key machine. These wafers can be seamlessly integrated into all further solar cell and module processing steps.

Conventional
Production Process

NexWafe`s
Kerfless Process

Chlorosilane
Chlorosilane
Chlorosilane

Epitaxy

Chlorosilane
Poly Silicon
Poly Silicon
Cz Ingot Pulling
Cz Ingot Pulling
Cropping Squaring
Cropping Squaring
Process 5
Grinding
Process 6
Wire Sawing
Wafer NexWafe
Growing Power

Wafer

„EpiWafers are fascinating: nearly no waste, much less energy consumption, yet monocrystalline and good for highest efficiency.

It’s a really great technology!“

Technology

Wafers grown directly from chlorosilane

NexWafe leads the way back to profitability in solar cell production. By using EpiWafer Technology we make high-quality wafers affordable for high efficiency cell process.

The direct and rapid way

We use chemical vapour-phase epitaxy for producing monocrystalline n-type silicon wafers for highly efficient solar cells. Direct epitaxial growth from gaseous source material eliminates five cost-intensive production steps of conventional wafer production:

  • no polysilicon production
  • no Cz ingot pulling
  • no cropping and squaring
  • no grinding
  • no wire sawing

Three steps to the goal

  1. First a very thin release layer is produced on top of a re-usable Si seed wafer – a proprietary in-line process which is suitable for mass production.
  2. Subsequently a silicon layer is epitaxially grown in a patent protected high-throughput deposition system based on atmospheric pressure CVD at T>1000°C.
  3. Finally the epitaxially grown wafer is mechanically detached from the seed wafer which is then reused.

Process without standstill

In order to realize mass production of EpiWafers we use a highly productive reactor that was developed by the founder, Stefan Reber, and his team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE). The facility and technology are aimed at consistently eliminating previous cost drivers:

  • reduced investment costs
  • less complex production
  • very high throughput inline processing
  • no material losses through mechanical finishing 
  • huge reductions in energy consumption

01 Release layer

In-line release layer formation and equipment for mass production in contrast to slow single wafer processing

02 Epitaxy

High-throughput patent-protected silicon deposion tool and process

03 Detachment

Free-standing silicon wafer – no need for temporary substrates in subsequent cell processing steps

04 Kerfless SI Wafer

Low cost, high efficiency wafer.
True drop-­in replacement for Cz silicon wafers

Product

The reinvention of silicon wafers

Uncompromised reliability and quality at low cost – NexWafe’s EpiWafer technology will write the next chapter of the silicon success story.

High quality. Low cost.

We reduces prices of wafers by:

  • saving 60 percent of silicon by our saw-free manufacturing processes*
  • lowering energy consumption during manufacturing up to 80 percent*
  • providing 70 percent less investment costs*
  • realizing a scrap-free production

*in comparison to conventional wafer production

Reliability guaranteed

NexWafe guarantees premium quality:

  • high quality wafer for high efficiency solar cells 
  • standard wafer sizes that can be used as drop-in replacements in today’s and tomorrow’s solar cell and module production
  • wafer thickness ranging from standard thickness down to 80 µm
  • perfectly full-square wafers for high module packing densities
  • extremely narrow resistivity distribution
  • no light-induced degradation (LID)
  • 100 percent “Made in Germany”
  • worldwide availability

„Knowing that the standard cut wafer is at its end of cost reduction potential the consequence is quickly drawn:

it’s time for a technological change.“

Benefits

Go ahead – take the next step!

NexWafe’s high quality drop-in EpiWafer provides opportunities for significant cost reductions – without any investments on your part.

Changing economies

EpiWafer Technology, commercialized by NexWafe, opens the doors to an avalanche breakthrough of novel high-efficiency concepts. We enable further cost savings on module and PV system level by making higher module efficiencies cost-competitive to lower efficiency standard technology.

Your advantages at a glance

Kerfless Wafer Technology is the superior solution – technically as well as economically:

  • drop-in replacements for Cz silicon wafers in solar production
  • wafer thickness and resistivity tailored to customer requirements 
  • certified quality of every single wafer
  • 100 percent “Made in Germany”
  • worldwide availability

A partner who thinks ahead

We are innovation. Whether you need reliable wafers for your current production or high-end material for tomorrow’s cell concepts – we understand your needs and will use our full competence to make your ambitious goals come true.

„Making great products out of great ideas needs a great team.

Our team has everything you need: passion, brilliance, experience and fun. Fun at work makes the best products.“

Team

The people behind NexWafe

NexWafe is home to experts with a partner-oriented approach. They pursue their goals with a great deal of passion, energy and joy: Increased competitive advantages for the solar energy sector.

Dr. Frank Siebke

Dr. Frank Siebke

Dr. Frank Siebke – Chief Financial Officer and Founder

Frank has many decades of experience in international operational and venture capital projects. As CTO and Investment Director at Good Energies, Frank invested in PV companies across Europe as well as in Israel, North America and China. Frank has held positions as a board member and board observer at several companies.

Before joining Good Energies, Frank held senior management positions in the PV industry at RWE Schott Solar, Schott Glas and Shell Solar where he successfully launched some new business areas. He worked as a researcher and development engineer at the Research Center Jülich and Sanyo Electric in Osaka.

Frank is a qualified physicist and has a Ph.D. in Science from RWTH Aachen, Germany. He also studied business administration and total quality management.

Karl Friedrich Haarburger

Karl Friedrich Haarburger

Karl Friedrich Haarburger – Chief Operating Officer

Chemical Engineer with a focus on operation and industrialization of innovative technologies. Karl Friedrich has more than 15 years of track record in highly automated PV manufacturing. As a COO at Shell Solar and as COO / VP Industrial Operations at Concentrix / Soitec Solar he built the most modern mass production facilities for silicon solar cells and for CPV modules from scratch. Realizing factories in Gelsenkirchen and Freiburg, Germany, and San Diego, USA, Karl Friedrich managed budgets of € 300 million.

Before entering into PV manufacturing business, he was an operations manager in the chemical industry, leading a production site with hundreds of tons of chemicals and related high safety and quality requirements.

Karl Friedrich received a diploma as a chemical engineer at the Technical University of Karlsruhe, Germany.

Dr. Stefan Reber

Dr. Stefan Reber

Dr. Stefan Reber – Chief Executive Officer and Founder

Physicist and specialist in solar silicon materials with nearly two decades of experience in applied research. Having started off in 1996 at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE as a PhD student, he received his doctorate in 2000 and successfully carried kerfless wafering and epitaxy technology forward from the laboratory into pilot production.

During his nearly 20 years at the Fraunhofer ISE, Stefan gained in-depth knowledge and experience of all aspects of managing a profit-oriented department, raising funds of more than € 40 million for research and development from industrial corporations and public customers. Stefan is a highly dedicated and specialized pioneer in the field of silicon materials and kerfless wafering and the co-inventor of more than 20 granted patents and patent applications.

Stefan has a physics degree from the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany and a PhD degree from the University of Mainz, Germany.

Roy Segev

Roy Segev

Roy Segev – Chief Commercial Officer and Founder

Physicist and serial entrepreneur with over 20 years of business experience in the global high-tech field. Roy was the founder and CEO of Zenith Solar and present from its initial beginnings right up until it was acquired by Sanan group, the largest LED manufacturer in China. He has been running the company and succeeded in raising over 20 million USD from prominent international investors. During this time he built the most efficient commercial solar system worldwide and has generated substantial business in Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

Previously Roy was an Executive Vice President at Magink Display Technology Inc. and prior to that a General Partner of Sadot Venture Capital where he invested in the energy and communication sectors. Roy is a co-inventor of numerous patents in the field of optics, solar and energy. Roy has a BSc. in Physics and Mathematics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a MSc. in Management from Boston University.

Dr. Kai Schillinger

Dr. Kai Schillinger

Dr. Kai Schillinger – VP Technology and Founder

A chemist whose passion crystalline materials and gas-phase deposition. He started off as a student helper in Stefan Reber’s group in 2003. Having joined the Fraunhofer ISE more than a decade ago, he spent his time creatinge high quality, low-cost materials for the PV industry. He gained in-depth experience in gas-phase deposition of semiconducting materials such as silicon or silicon carbide, and is an expert in the technology of the whole EpiWafer value chain.

Kai holds a diploma and a PhD in Chemistry  from the University of Freiburg, Germany.

„A good technology, an open market and strong partner, that’s all you need for success.“

News

Become part of the NexWafe team

in Freiburg, the famous Green City in southern Germany.

News

March 7
2016 NexWafe GmbH Completed Series A Financing with €6M Investment from Lynwood (Schweiz) AG 
New Funding to commercialize EpiWafer Technology
(Download | 215KB)

 

NexWafe GmbH und Lynwood AG schließen Finanzierungsvertrag über 6 Mio. Euro ab
EpiWafer-Technologie startet mit Serie A in die Kommerzialisierung

-

Sept. 14, 2015
20 % Efficient Solar Cell on EpiWafer
Fraunhofer ISE and NexWafe report first solar cells produced on EpiWafer with 20% efficiency
(Download | 185KB)

-

June 15, 2015
NexWafe GmbH – Fraunhofer ISE Starts a New Spin-Off Company
Kerfless Wafer Technology to bring cost of photovoltaics down and reduce waste
(Download | 219KB)

Press review

Bild der Wissenschaft (german)
Solarzellen: Wachsen lassen statt sägen
Die Kerfless-Wafer-Technologie revolutioniert die Fertigung von Silizium-Wafern. (inkl. Video "Energie durch Sonne")
Bild der Wissenschaft

-

pv magazine
NexWafe plans 250 MWp kerfless wafer production
Fraunhofer spinoff, NexWafe GmbH plans to set up a 250 MWp production line for its kerfless wafer production. The first pilot line is expected to begin in 2017.
pv magazine

-

Badische Zeitung (german)
ISE-Forscher gründen neues Unternehmen
Badische Zeitung (DE)