With the opening of its new Silicon Materials Technology and Evaluation Center (SIMTEC) in Freiberg, Germany, Fraunhofer ISE is extending research into materials, which includes multicrystalline block crystallization, block shaping through to wafering silicon epitaxy for crystalline silicon thin-film wafer equivalents. SIMTEC will also work on metallurgical grade silicon and its use for the production of solar cells.
“On the long journey from the raw silicon material to the finished photovoltaic module, the crystallization of silicon blocks is a decisive process step,”explains Dr. Stefan Reber, head of the group Crystalline Silicon – Materials and Thinfilm Solar Cells. “In this step, the course is set, so to say, for the solar cell efficiency. With SIMTEC, we now have the necessary equipment at our disposal to intensively carry out work on the current and future topics on the material side.”
SIMTEC also plans to work on optimizing the crystalline silicon epitaxy process through to production in an effort after nearly 20 years of development to bring the technology to market in the next 2 years.
The equipment at SIMTEC was supported by funds from the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. The project work is supported by funds from the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.