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New methods for producing low cost silicon for solar cells

Lund, C., Zhang, W., Jennings, P. and Singh, P. (2000) New methods for producing low cost silicon for solar cells. In: Solar 2000: Renewable Energy Transforming Business, 38th annual conference of the Australian and New Zealand Solar Energy Society, 29 November - 1 December, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

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Growth in the solar cell industry will soon exceed the available supply of electronic grade Si from semiconductor offcuts. This is expected to lead to a significant increase in the cost of the source material, and a subsequent rise in the price of solar cells. As a result of this a number of different ways are being investigated to manufacture an alternative low-cost silicon material for solar cells. This paper discusses an investigation of several potential new processes for producing lower-cost solar cells based on the production and purification of the "volatile" chloro-silane compounds SiCl4 and Si2Cl6 from naturally occurring SiO2. These purified compounds may then be decomposed to produce thin film Si solar cells directly, or converted to solar grade silicon for the subsequent production of conventional wafer based c-Si solar cells. The use of waste product grain husks as a new source of high grade SiO2 feedstock for this process is also discussed. These methods offer the possibility of both new, low cost methods of producing solar-grade Si for wafer based c-Si solar cell production, as well as the direct production of inexpensive thin film Si solar cells, such as a-Si:H.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
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