Clarkson Professor Awarded Nearly $555k NSF Grant for Horizontal Ribbon Growth Research

September 22, 2023

Brian Helenbrook, the Paynter-Krigman Endowed Professor in Engineering Science Simulation and Chair of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at Clarkson University, has been awarded a nearly $555k grant from the National Science Foundation. The goal of this work is to develop new models of solidification kinetics and to use them to optimize the horizontal ribbon growth (HRG) process.

Headshot, Brian Helenbrook

HRG is a technique for producing thin wafers of single-crystal silicon for use in solar cells, which has the potential to significantly lower production costs (possibly 75% lower) compared to currently used techniques. In turn, this would help the US to achieve energy independence using renewable resources and grow advanced manufacturing in the US.  

Commercialization of HRG has not yet been successful mainly because of a lack of understanding of the solidification dynamics. Using their models, Helenbrook’s team has provided high-fidelity simulations that identified the major barriers to commercialization and with this new grant will explore approaches to overcome those challenges.

“I am excited to start this project.  HRG has been the holy grail of silicon crystal growth for many years, and this project will allow us to finally determine how it can be successful,” Helenbrook said.

This project will start in November and run through October of 2026. 

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