Memorias de investigación
Research Project:
EPIMETSI:High throughput epitaxial reactor development for solar cell manufacturing from mg-silicon

Research Areas
  • Electronic circuits,
  • Electronic devices,
  • Magnetic materials

Objectives and problems to be solved: The objective of this proposal is to fabricate silicon thin film solar cells on metallurgical silicon substrates with a high throughput epitaxial reactor of novel design. This reactor will be able to be fed with electronic grade source gases or with gases obtained in site from metallurgical silicon (MG Si). In this way, MG Si will be treated along two circuits, one producing medium purified substrates and other producing highly purified epitaxies where the cell is fabricated, to directly obtain solar cells starting from it. Even if electronic grade epitaxy source gases were used, important cost reduction of the cells is expected in the medium term when sufficient learning is achieved. But more important in the shorter term is the security of the supply of wafers as starting material for solar cells thus facing the problem of silicon feedstock shortage in the near future. Description of work: The achievement of this R&D goal will be pursued by addressing the following lines: 1. Upgrading metallurgical silicon to a level suitable for epic - cells substrates; 2. Design and prototype demonstration of a high throughput epitaxial reactor; 3. Design and prototype demonstration of re-circulation and synthesis of pure gases for epitaxy growth and 4. Development of appropriate processing for epic - cells. Industrial perspective will be sought for by 5. Conducting manufacturability studies in a factory environment and 6. Cost and market analysis. The consortium includes a leading photovoltaic manufacturing company (ISOFOTON) that will act as coordinator and will ensure the industrial compatibility of the developed techniques. A metallurgical silicon manufacturer (ELKEM) and a producer of cast silicon and casting equipment (Crystalox) will work in the preparation of suitable substrates from metallurgical silicon. IMEC is a microelectronic and photovoltaic laboratory that will develop the high efficiency thin film solar cell process and will optimise epitaxy parameters on the substrates. IES-UPM is another photovoltaic research laboratory that will undertake the design of the epitaxial reactor based on previous studies. DIQ-UCM is a University group and will deal with the basic chemistry issues of the epitaxy and source gases. Finally, CYTHELIA is a specialised consultant agency that will assist the co-ordinator in the cost and marketing studies. By the middle of the project it is expected to have 12% efficient epitaxial solar cells fabricated with conventional reactors on metallurgical substrates and the design of the reactor and the units for source gas treatment. By the end of the project it is expected to fabricate in a pilot line 14% efficient epitaxial solar cells and 13% in the factory, with which a module will be built. It is expected also to have working prototypes of the high throughput epitaxial reactor with a high packing density (more than 150 wafers in the post-prototype stage) and of the recirculation unit. The fulfilment of these objectives will demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed Si thin film technology. Expected results and Exploitation Plans: This project is addressed to a quickly growing market that by the end of the project will amount 90 Million. Ultimately this market may be of some 20 Billion. It would involve the unhampered growth of the PV industry that ultimately might provide 1/3 of the World electricity and so contribute, jointly with other actions contemplated in the RIGES scenario presented to the Rio Summit, to keep GHG below the level of 1985.To ensure the exploitation of the results, the consortium includes a silicon manufacturer, a crystal growing equipment manufacturer and a solar cell manufacturer, all of them with a leading position in the PV market today, and thus all range of applications of the technology is encompassed.
Project type
Proyectos y convenios en convocatorias públicas competitivas
Comision Europea
Entity Nationality
Sin nacionalidad
Entity size
Granting date

Research Group, Departaments and Institutes related
  • Creador: Grupo de Investigación: Silicio y Nuevos Conceptos para Células Solares
  • Departamento: Electrónica Física