SunPower Patent Grants

Islanded operation of distributed power sources

Granted: May 23, 2017
Patent Number: 9660451
A method for synchronizing distributed generation power sources during an islanding event may include synchronizing a first one of the islanded local power sources to a master local reference, and synchronizing a second one of the islanded local power sources to the master local reference. In-rush current may be controlled by energizing the local load sequentially in stages when a utility grid is connected to the point of common connection. The local loads may also be selectively…

Solar cell stringer calibrator

Granted: May 23, 2017
Patent Number: 9660575
A solar cell stringer calibrator has been disclosed. In an example, a method includes loading a base having pressure sensors into a solar cell stringer to be positioned under a tacking head. The tacking head is lowered onto the base. The pressure sensors measure pressure applied by the tacking head. The method involves determining whether the pressure applied by the tacking head is within a predetermined range. In another example, a method involves heating a solder joint, and measuring a…

Contacts for solar cells formed by directing a laser beam with a particular shape on a metal foil over a dielectric region

Granted: May 16, 2017
Patent Number: 9653638
A method of fabricating a solar cell is disclosed. The method can include forming a dielectric region on a surface of a solar cell structure and forming a metal layer on the dielectric layer. The method can also include configuring a laser beam with a particular shape and directing the laser beam with the particular shape on the metal layer, where the particular shape allows a contact to be formed between the metal layer and the solar cell structure.

Multi-stage power inverter

Granted: May 9, 2017
Patent Number: 9647574
An inverter for converting an input direct current (DC) waveform from a DC source to an output alternating current (AC) waveform for delivery to an AC grid includes an input converter, an output converter, an input controller, and an output controller. The input controller is configured to control the operation of the input converter, and the output controller is configured to control the operation of the output controller. The input and output controllers are electrically isolated from…

Methods and structures for improving the structural integrity of solar cells

Granted: May 2, 2017
Patent Number: 9640676
A method for manufacturing solar cells is disclosed. The method includes forming an insulating material in a printable suspension along the at least one side edge of a solar cell, the insulating material in a printable suspension further adapted to form a protective film which reduces cracking near at least one side edge of the solar cell and improve structural integrity against mechanical stress. The protective film has an elastic modulus of at least 3 GPa, an elongation break point of…

Solar cell emitter region fabrication with differentiated P-type and N-type region architectures

Granted: April 25, 2017
Patent Number: 9634177
Methods of fabricating solar cell emitter regions with differentiated P-type and N-type regions architectures, and resulting solar cells, are described. In an example, a back contact solar cell includes a substrate having a light-receiving surface and a back surface. A first polycrystalline silicon emitter region of a first conductivity type is disposed on a first thin dielectric layer disposed on the back surface of the substrate. A second polycrystalline silicon emitter region of a…

Method of using laser welding to ohmic contact of metallic thermal and diffusion barrier layer for foil-based metallization of solar cells

Granted: April 25, 2017
Patent Number: 9634178
Methods of fabricating solar cells using a metal-containing thermal and diffusion barrier layer in foil-based metallization approaches, and the resulting solar cells, are described. For example, a method of fabricating a solar cell includes forming a plurality of semiconductor regions in or above a substrate. The method also includes forming a metal-containing thermal and diffusion barrier layer above the plurality of semiconductor regions. The method also includes forming a metal seed…

Communication between photovoltaic devices on a shared power line

Granted: April 25, 2017
Patent Number: 9634723
An electric system, method, and computer-readable medium facilitate shared access to a shared power line for communication using a PLC protocol. The electric system, method, and computer-readable medium may determine when the shared power line is available for a transmission, allocate unicast transmission time slots to each of a plurality of inverters, transmit a multicast message requesting that each of the plurality of inverters communicate information during its allocates transmission…

Electronic component housing with heat sink

Granted: April 25, 2017
Patent Number: 9635783
A photovoltaic assembly for converting solar radiation to electrical energy is described. The photovoltaic assembly includes a photovoltaic module and an electronic component housing. The photovoltaic module has a frame, a laminate, a plurality of solar cells and a backsheet. The electronic component housing has an upper section to couple to the backsheet, a middle section and a lower section for enclosing electronic components. The electronic components can include a microinverter or…

Power inverter docking system for photovoltaic modules

Granted: April 18, 2017
Patent Number: 9627555
An electronics module docking system includes docking member removably coupled to a photovoltaic module. The docking system includes a first connector port electrically coupled to one or more photovoltaic cells of the photovoltaic module. The photovoltaic module is selectively coupleable to the docking member. The docking system includes a housing to enclose an electronics module. The housing may include second connector port that is selectively engageable to the power electronics…

Foil-based metallization of solar cells

Granted: April 18, 2017
Patent Number: 9627566
Approaches for the foil-based metallization of solar cells and the resulting solar cells are described. In an example, a solar cell includes a substrate. A plurality of alternating N-type and P-type semiconductor regions is disposed in or above the substrate. A conductive contact structure is disposed above the plurality of alternating N-type and P-type semiconductor regions. The conductive contact structure includes a plurality of metal seed material regions providing a metal seed…

Laser foil trim approaches for foil-based metallization for solar cells

Granted: April 11, 2017
Patent Number: 9620655
Laser foil trim approaches for foil-based metallization of solar cells, and the resulting solar cells, are described. For example, a method of fabricating a solar cell includes attaching a metal foil sheet to a surface of a wafer to provide a unified pairing of the metal foil sheet and the wafer, wherein the wafer has a perimeter and the metal foil sheet has a portion overhanging the perimeter. The method also includes laser scribing the metal foil sheet along the perimeter of the wafer…

Laser beam shaping for foil-based metallization of solar cells

Granted: April 11, 2017
Patent Number: 9620661
Approaches for foil-based metallization of solar cells and the resulting solar cells are described. For example, a method of fabricating a solar cell involves locating a metal foil above a plurality of alternating N-type and P-type semiconductor regions disposed in or above a substrate. The method also involves laser welding the metal foil to the alternating N-type and P-type semiconductor regions. The method also involves patterning the metal foil by laser ablating through at least a…

Solar cell having doped semiconductor heterojunction contacts

Granted: March 28, 2017
Patent Number: 9608131
A silicon solar cell has doped amorphous silicon contacts formed on a tunnel silicon oxide layer on a surface of a silicon substrate. High temperature processing is unnecessary in fabricating the solar cell.

Distributed energy conversion systems

Granted: March 28, 2017
Patent Number: 9608448
A distributed energy conversion system may include one or more DC power sources and two or more inverters to convert DC power from the power sources to AC power. The AC power from the two or more inverters may be combined to provide a single AC output. A module may include one or more photovoltaic cells and two or more inverters. An integrated circuit may include power electronics to convert DC input power to AC output power and processing circuitry to control the power electronics. The…

Technologies for converter topologies

Granted: February 28, 2017
Patent Number: 9584044
In some embodiments of the disclosed inverter topologies, an inverter may include a full bridge LLC resonant converter, a first boost converter, and a second boost converter. In such embodiments, the first and second boost converters operate in an interleaved manner. In other disclosed embodiments, the inverter may include a half-bridge inverter circuit, a resonant circuit, a capacitor divider circuit, and a transformer.

Solar cell emitter region fabrication using self-aligned implant and cap

Granted: February 21, 2017
Patent Number: 9577134
Methods of fabricating solar cell emitter regions using self-aligned implant and cap, and the resulting solar cells, are described. In an example, a method of fabricating an emitter region of a solar cell involves forming a silicon layer above a substrate. The method also involves implanting, through a stencil mask, dopant impurity atoms in the silicon layer to form implanted regions of the silicon layer with adjacent non-implanted regions. The method also involves forming, through the…

Single-step metal bond and contact formation for solar cells

Granted: February 21, 2017
Patent Number: 9577139
A method for fabricating a solar cell is disclosed. The method can include forming a dielectric region on a surface of a solar cell structure and forming a first metal layer on the dielectric region. The method can also include forming a second metal layer on the first metal layer and locally heating a particular region of the second metal layer, where heating includes forming a metal bond between the first and second metal layer and forming a contact between the first metal layer and…

Anti-reflective coating with high optical absorption layer for backside contact solar cells

Granted: February 21, 2017
Patent Number: 9577120
A multilayer anti-reflection structure for a backside contact solar cell. The anti-reflection structure may be formed on a front side of the backside contact solar cell. The anti-reflection structure may include a passivation level, a high optical absorption layer over the passivation level, and a low optical absorption layer over the high optical absorption layer. The passivation level may include silicon dioxide thermally grown on a textured surface of the solar cell substrate, which…

Solar cell emitter region fabrication using ion implantation

Granted: February 21, 2017
Patent Number: 9577126
Methods of fabricating solar cell emitter regions using ion implantation, and resulting solar cells, are described. In an example, a back contact solar cell includes a crystalline silicon substrate having a light-receiving surface and a back surface. A first polycrystalline silicon emitter region is disposed above the crystalline silicon substrate. The first polycrystalline silicon emitter region is doped with dopant impurity species of a first conductivity type and further includes…