2010: The Year in Innovation

Teru Onishi
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Easier-to-create Solar Wafers

One reason solar power is so expensive is that the energy-harnessing silicon wafers inside most solar panels are difficult to manufacture. 1366 Technologies has developed a streamlined process for producing wafers with the potential to cut manufacturing costs as much as 60 percent. The company's so-called Direct Wafer method involves skimming a cooled wafer directly from a vat of melted silicon. The process takes mere seconds, compared with two or three days using the current method. 1366 hopes to begin selling wafers to solar panel manufacturers by the end of 2012. Read more.