CHS, or cyclohexasilane (Si6H12), is an excellent Si precursor, many say the best source for the atom Si. The silicon atom has wide ranging chemical characteristics; from semiconductor chips to silicone caulk to Si oxide (glass).
Talking CHS Technology with The Coretec Group
Contributed by | The Coretec Group
Tell us about The Coretec Group and its mission.
The Coretec Group’s mission is to commercialize innovations and disruptive technologies in silicon (Si) and 3D visualization, serving advanced technology markets in support of global challenges in energy, electronics, semiconductor, solar, health, environment, and security.
The Coretec Group has really focused on CHS technology? Tell us about CHS Technology.
CHS, or cyclohexasilane (Si6H12), is an excellent Si precursor, many say the best source for the atom Si. The silicon atom has wide ranging chemical characteristics; from semiconductor chips to silicone caulk to Si oxide (glass). We have many critical materials today that owe their material performance to the silicon atom. Coretec is committed to supplying the best Si precursors for next generation advanced materials and systems, primarily focused on technology markets that need a step function in innovation to reach tomorrow’s solutions.
What benefits can this form of CHS bring to alternative energy markets?
CHS is a liquid up to 175F, which means it can enable room temperature liquid silicon precursor processing; thereby reducing processing costs. In some applications, it can enable unique material properties not achievable with other silicon precursors; which means CHS can deliver unique performance characteristics in the customers application. It starts with this: CHS is a ring of six Si atoms, all six Si atoms have two Si bonds, and the other two bonds to each Si atom are hydrogens. The silicon-hydrogen bonds in this molecular structure are weaker compared to conventional Si precursors due to the molecule’s geometry, which means it is easy to remove the hydrogen and all that is left is PURE Si. Moreover, the unique CHS structure enables preferential formation of Si structures compared to traditional materials such as silane, SiH4. A liquid Si precursor at room temperature, with an easier transformation to pure silicon are some of key advantages of CHS with the added bonus of a lower transition temperature to amorphous Si (a-Si) and crystalline Si (c-Si).
This means CHS-derived Si nanoparticles have many advantages over other Si nanoparticles, AND CHS is more easily functionalized (combined with other atoms, like boron) leading to unique chemical compounds that can deliver tailored Si-materials. Better Si nanoparticles and better Si quantum dots (QDots) make better Si anode batteries, better solar cells, better LEDs, better QDots for drug delivery, and many other uses.
Tell us about the cost savings of CHS as related to energy storage.
The Energy Storage Market needs better batteries. Lithium-ion batteries can realize significant improvements in storage capacity by using Si anodes, and CHS can enable that in two ways. First in process ability; CHS can coat carbon nanoparticles as a liquid, making the coating process faster and cheaper. Second, with some unique processing, CHS can readily form Si nanoparticles which can address the issue of expansion and contraction experienced in charging and discharging Si anode lithium-ion batteries. A lithium-ion battery, however, with a Si anode has the potential to achieve a 300% increase in power density (300% more power output in same size/weight battery). We could also reduce battery weight and attain a significant increase in power. Think of an electric car battery half the size but with a 150% increase in power & distance. All other things being equal, that 200-mile EV range just turned into 500 miles.
How is The Coretec Group working to leverage this technology?
We are working with leading energy storage companies to help them take advantage of the CHS material characteristics mentioned above, as well as other innovators in the other markets mentioned that span a number of applications.
I would like to make a key point here: Coretec is not betting on which product design will win a majority of the market, as we are not a one-product, nor one-market participant. For example: there are dozens of Si anode battery designs out there, however, we are working with several of them, and anticipate there are more that will realize they need a better Si precursor. This increases our chances of being a part of the winning Si anode battery. We anticipate doing this in a similar manner for all markets which need a better Si precursor.
What can this mean for the future of energy storage?
In energy storage, there is a tremendous demand for improved performance in a multi-billion-dollar market. When one combines EVs, distributed renewables, and personal electronics, it reaches the tens of billions. That demand for increased performance has resulted in billions being spent right now on innovation.
We believe CHS will catalyze new performance innovations in energy storage, and several of our customers think this as well. Our stated goal is to achieve approximately 200% improvement in performance, however, we expect these increases to be incremental, such as 30% improvements, then another 30% more, and so on. Cost will be determined by the markets, as there will be higher prices paid for larger performance initially (likely EV), and then filter into distributed renewables, and finally into commodity electronics. Of course, that changes if consumers are willing to pay $200 more for a smartphone that lasts several days on a single charge.
What other industries and uses are there for CHS?
There are many, and probably a few we have not thought of yet.
Semiconductor. Purity and yield are key performance criteria in semiconductors. Our molecule can deliver best-in-class purity based on Si6H12, and with six Si atoms per molecule, it can also deliver superior yield and productivity (meaning lower cost). There are other advantages in some semiconductor processing where there are needs for lower temperature conversion to pure silicon.
Solar: Performance can be improved using QDots (5-50nm Si nanoparticles). Si QDots have tunable bandgaps across a wide range of energy levels where light is captured or expelled by changing the dots' size. This property makes quantum dots attractive for multi-junction solar cells, where a variety of materials are used to improve efficiency by harvesting multiple portions of the solar spectrum, hence can improve a solar cell’s performance by as much as 10%.
Drug Delivery: Si QDots can carry pharmaceuticals / drugs and act as the delivery vehicle into the body. Their optical properties can be used to trace the accumulation of the drug in the specific areas of the body. This is of particular value in tracking the efficacy of the drugs used and can aid in the management of dosage.
LED: When an LED backlight hits a quantum dot, it glows. The size of the dot dictates the color—the biggest, at 5.5 nanometers, handle pure reds, smaller dots handle pure green, and the LED backlights handle the blues. In new TVs (Samsung's Q-Series), the quantum dots are arranged in a film that fills the screen. Once the backlight activates them, their light passes through the filters that render the colors you see watching the TV. This improves efficiency—instead of having to divide white light, which represents all the wavelengths of light, into precise colors, the filters in a quantum-dot set work with pristine colors and color hues. No light is wasted, resulting in brighter, more accurate colors. This is expanded to LED displays, dashboards, computer screens, and signs. Innovation to sharper colors, brighter colored LEDs, and with less power – that is what is happening.
About Michael Kraft
Michael Kraft is known for strategic vision, business development, and creating long-term organizational value from customers, markets, and strategic partners. As President/CEO, he has led companies in advanced materials and helped grow revenues from start-up to $300 million and established them as strategic suppliers to worldwide markets and partners of the Global 500. Michael has been a member of two senior executive teams that grew revenues from $100 million to $1 billion range and in both companies increased shareholder value to >$1 billion. His focus is to quickly identify critical market requirements, lead product development to grow revenues and market share organically, build strategic partnerships, and complete accretive acquisitions. Michael is excellent in worldwide market development, strategic partnerships, transaction diligence, public and private M&A in the $5 million to $1.5 billion range, and synergy realization. Michael has a BSEE/Systems Science degree from Michigan State University and a Masters in Management from Penn State University.
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag
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