July 11, 2008 — Silicon Genesis, a provider of process and technology for engineered substrates has successfully produced solar substrates for the PV industry using a “kerf-free” wafering process technology developed by SiGen called PolyMax. This introduction represents a move for the company into the solar PV wafer production environment, capitalizing on in-house technology and expertise. SiGen’s technology is used for production of Silicon-On-Insulator (SOI) semiconductor wafers for high performance applications for the semiconductor, display, optoelectronics, and solar markets.
By eliminating sawing losses, the PolyMax equipment set can substantially reduce the amount of polysilicon used within the ingot to wafer manufacturing steps and also eliminate some of the costly consumables in today’s wafer manufacturing. First targeted to process monocrystalline silicon to produce high-efficiency silicon solar cells, the equipment is expected to help the PV industry reach grid parity while simultaneously relaxing the shortage of polysilicon feedstock.
The company has produced 50-micron thick, full-size 125mm wafer samples utilizing engineering equipment with excellent mechanical and electrical characteristics. SiGen plans to start pilot line operations by spring 2009 that demonstrate kerf-free processing of silicon ingots into wafers ranging from 150um to 50um in thickness.
“Our full-sized PV samples have enhanced silicon attributes which dramatically improve wafer and cell processing capabilities,” said Francois Henley, president and CEO of Silicon Genesis. “In addition to saving poly, we found the wafers to be significantly more resistant to breakage, thereby enabling higher cell yields and lowering expensive downstream failures seen by module manufacturers and installers.”
SiGen will present details of the PolyMax wafering process and equipment at the upcoming 23rd European Photovoltaic Conference (September 1-5, Valencia, Spain).