EnSol – Nanomaterial Engineering & Energy Solutions

EnSol AS is a founder owned, Bergen based, Norwegian SME established in 2009 to develop and licence new innovative applications in nanocomposite materials, devices and process technology. The “nanotechnology era” has seen an explosion in interest in nanoparticles, with the ability to fine tune optical, electrical and mechanical properties of their thin films, as well as facilitating key / seeding layers, for other thin film growth. Whilst chemical preparation of nanoparticles is currently the most commercially viable option, Physical Vapour – in-vacuum preparation is seen as the most thin film compatible method. Application areas include: Photo-Voltaics (PV), batteries, sensors, thin film transistors, hard wearing, low friction, hydrophobic, and hydrophilic coatings. EnSol’s key application development area is for thin film metal base PV applications, (whilst also carrying out development in the area of medical application and sensor / detector technology.) Physical Vapour Deposition nanoparticle sources still remain largely confined to the academic / university lab. These systems are temperamental in operation, have low nanoparticle beam flux, and are far from compatible with standard larger scale thin film process technology. Having a significant working knowledge of nanoparticle production, having worked with both the Daresbury laboratory, and the University of Leicester cluster facilities. EnSol chose to make radical design modifications to its first prototype system after securing Norwegian research funding for its nanoparticle based Photo-Voltaics R&D project. This first system produced a 40x increase in particle beam flux with exceptional long term stability as compared to other systems. EnSol has now commissioned its latest “linear” which moves away from the conventional circular beam profile. The new system has so far exceeded expectations, with reduced argon process gas demands, and deposition rates in excess of 5 Å/s (Cu) over 12 cm2 (even prior to optimisation). EnSol is using its current nanoparticle source development to spearhead two additional research activities, in the production of a simple thin film solar cell to increase current silicon module efficiency, and for a novel nanocomposite based device for neutron detection; to be used for cancer particle therapy applications, homeland security and fundamental research. EnSol holds key IP and commercial ‘know-how’ in the area of nanocomposite thin-film devices and production technology, which acts as part of the foundation of all our projects. EnSol’s technical staff have significant experience working on ‘beam- time’ at various international facilities. Future activities in EnSol: EnSol foresees its nanocomposite device applications (PV cell & sensor technology) as longer term commercial objectives. However, its nanoparticle source development is ideal for earlier commercial exploitation. The current linear nanoparticle source is approaching the largest practical on EnSol’s current deposition system. Further up-scaling beyond the current 10 cm x 10 cm substrate capacity is not essential for our functional device R&D program. As such EnSol is looking to assess the market options and demands for a more commercial scale nanoparticle source / deposition system to better direct and focus the next stage in the source development. In particular we aim to find potential partner/s in the thin-film applications industry to develop this technology with. EnSol will bring to commercial realization our ongoing developments: – A Industrial scale Nanoparticle Source (INS) System for the production of metallic nano particles/nanocomposite materials for solar cells, glass & foil coatings, optical and medical applications. A prototype system will be delivered to a major client in 2017. – A solid state Neutron radiation detector. The primary objective of this innovation project is to develop a commercially viable neutron imaging detector (including signal processing electronics) for medical & research applications. The detector will be produced and delivered from EnSol in 2018. – A novel thin film solar cell technology. EnSol business objective is to license or sell our patented solar cell technology to manufacturers of solar harvesting equipment (windows, roofing, panels, clothing etc.). EnSol will, with the basis of incomes from our business areas and research funding, develop new technologies and applications based on the company’s patent portfolio and our core technical  competence in science and engineering.