To produce solar photovoltaic cell, highly pure silicon material is required and also a process similar to IC manufacturing is used to create arrays of photodiodes on a silicon wafer dice. Both the processes are expensive and also uses significant amount of silicon as base material.
Now a company called Versatilis LLC has invented a nano-particle assembling and fabrication process, where micron size semiconductor dust is assembled as a monolayer of array of diodes. These diodes depending on the material used, if it is silicon, the layer can becomes solar PV array, if it is a compound semiconductor such as gallium nitride, the assembled layer of diodes can become light emitting diodes. Versatilis LLC is issued a patent (Patent No. 8,859,310 with title "Methods of fabricating optoelectronic devices using semiconductor-particle monolayers and devices made thereby") by U.S. Patent Office for the process of converting semiconductor powder into solar PV cells or LEDs.
This technology invention is not about high efficiency solar PV or LED, but it's more about low-cost manufacturing of solar PV or LED using semiconductor dust, powder, fine silicon dust often produced during the dicing of silicon chips from the silicon die. Another advantage of this technology is using less silicon per square area of solar PV. Versatilis claims a kilogram of single crystal CIGS particles used as micro-solar cells can cover an area over 300 square meters. Another advantage is the flexibility of solar or LED panel.
Versatilis has done significant research in the area of forming electronics circuits through printing. It has effectively developed use of organic semiconductor ink to create thin-film transistors on a flexible surface using cheap printing technology. Organic semiconductor material is highly suitable for developing flexible electronic systems using print electronics technology.
With this achievement of semiconductor dust assembling in to a layer of diodes can also lead to creation of flexible electronics using silicon or any other compound semiconductor material.
Ajay Jain, Chief technology officer of Versatilis, was quoted "Versatilis demonstrated a number of thin film transistors made with such embedded conductive particle based percolating networks".
All this research pointing to manufacturing of electronic devices at less complicated cheap processes and some of them may be at room temperature, which can result in plastic electronics age.