Solar 3D Inc., Santa Barbara, Calif., the developer of a new three-dimensional solar cell technology to maximize the conversion of sunlight into electricity, recently announced a design breakthrough that will substantially reduce the mass production costs of its new super-efficient solar cell. Inspired by light management techniques used in fiber-optic devices, the company's innovative solar cell technology utilizes a three-dimensional design to trap sunlight inside micro-photovoltaic structures where photons bounce around until they are converted into electrons. Solar3D's management believes this breakthrough solar cell design will dramatically change the economics of solar energy.

Jim Nelson, president and CEO of Solar3D, said in a press release, “We challenged our technical team to come up with an improved design that will allow for low-cost manufacturing. The result is an elegant, single-element design where the light collecting function is creatively merged into the micro-photovoltaic structures on a single silicon wafer. We believe our improved design can be manufactured in a single silicon wafer processing line, instead of a complex multi-material process. In the world of PV, every step of manufacturing process adds a significant cost component. We are very excited about our new design breakthrough and expect our manufacturing costs to be dramatically reduced.”