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Tailored surfaces and functional coatings

Beneq provides nanotechnology-enabled functional coating solutions based on Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) and the company’s proprietary atmospheric nHALO® and nAERO™ aerosol coating technologies. Customers are mainly concentrated in the cleantech and renewable energy fields, with a particular focus on glass, photovoltaics, and emerging thin film markets.

Established in 2005 as a spin-off, Beneq’s history is rooted in the fibre optics industry and chemical vapour deposition. Today, its technologies and equipment are used by a much wider range of customers in areas such as solar power, architectural glass, flexible electronics, biomedicine, jewellery, and displays. A number of universities and research centres have also selected Beneq as a partner for advanced research in the nanotechnology field.

Beneq has steadily extended its ALD-based products, which are primarily intended for producing accurate, pinhole-free, and highly conformal thin-film coatings for both existing and new industrial applications. The company has also put its expertise to work to develop a robust method for preventing silver objects, such as coins, medals, jewellery, and silverware from tarnishing.

In addition, Beneq has developed two unique technologies of its own: nHALO® and nAERO™.

Innovative aerosol coating technologies

Glass, ceramic tiles, and certain metals can be enhanced with a variety of functional coatings thanks to nHALO®. A flame spray technology that can be employed with both on-line and off-line processes, nHALO® can modify the surface layer of glass by allowing nanoparticles to diffuse into the glass matrix or deposit particles on to the surface of glass and other materials.

Beneq’s TFS 500 coating unit, combined with the company’s nSILVER® technology, gives silver items a thin, transparent, pinhole-free, sapphire-like coating that protects them against tarnishing.

The nAERO™ aerosol-based coating system offers an efficient, high-throughput method for producing a robust, high-quality TCO coating on glass for solar applications and low-e coatings for architectural glass manufacturing. Depositing submicron droplets directly on to hot glass results in a highly uniform film. Rapid diffusion – combined with the accelerated evaporation rate and large surface area of the aerosol – ensures that coating growth rates are high. As the deposition process can be scaled up easily, nAERO™ is well-suited to a variety of glass production and post-processing activities.

Improving photovoltaic efficiency

Beneq offers production and R&D systems for all major solar cell technologies to help enhance solar cell efficiency and productivity.

Surface passivation of c-Si solar cell wafers improves their efficiency by a 1-2%-unit increase by increasing the effective lifetime of their charge carriers. ALD coating technology can be used to produce cadmium-free CIGS solar cells with a Zn(O,S) buffer layer offering efficiencies that meet or exceed the performance of traditional CIGS solar cells based on a CdS buffer layer.

> Sampo Ahonen
(Published in HighTech Finland 2010)