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This process realizes large costs savings for manufacturing silicon wafers

By Scott Jenkins |

Crystal Solar Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.; www.xstalsolar.com) is preparing for high-volume production of silicon wafers using a process that forms the wafers directly from trichlorosilane (TCS) gas using a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) epitaxy process that can significantly lower the manufacturing costs for solar photovoltaic cells. By eliminating several steps used in the traditional solar-wafer manufacturing process, including melting down polysilicon pieces, formation of a monocrystalline silicon ingot and slicing the wafers, Crystal Solar’s “Direct-to-Wafer” technology allows for a 50% reduction in the wafer’s production cost, which represents almost half of the cost of the final solar cell. “Epitaxy has been well known for silicon production in the past,” says T.S. Ravi, Crystal Solar co-founder and CEO, but the approach has not been economical for use in solar cell applications because growing the silicon layer has been too slow, and conversion rates from TCS to solid Si have been too low. “The key for us was to find good solutions to the problems of how can you grow the wafers faster and how can you achieve higher conversion rates?” Ravi says. By using a vertical reactor concept,…
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