Summary
Polycrystalline silicon, or multicrystalline silicon, also called polysilicon, poly-Si, or mc-Si, is a high purity, polycrystalline form of silicon, used as a raw material by the solar photovoltaic and electronics industry. Polysilicon is produced from metallurgical grade silicon by a chemical purification process, called the Siemens process. This process involves distillation of volatile silicon compounds, and their decomposition into silicon at high temperatures. An emerging, alternative process of refinement uses a fluidized bed reactor. The photovoltaic industry also produces upgraded metallurgical-grade silicon (UMG-Si), using metallurgical instead of chemical purification processes. When produced for the electronics industry, polysilicon contains impurity levels of less than one part per billion (ppb), while polycrystalline solar grade silicon (SoG-Si) is generally less pure. A few companies from China, Germany, Japan, Korea and the United States, such as GCL-Poly, Wacker Chemie, Tokuyama, OCI, and Hemlock Semiconductor, as well as the Norwegian headquartered REC, accounted for most of the worldwide production of about 230,000 tonnes in 2013. The polysilicon feedstock – large rods, usually broken into chunks of specific sizes and packaged in clean rooms before shipment – is directly cast into multicrystalline ingots or submitted to a recrystallization process to grow single crystal boules. The boules are then sliced into thin silicon wafers and used for the production of solar cells, integrated circuits and other semiconductor devices. Polysilicon consists of small crystals, also known as crystallites, giving the material its typical metal flake effect. While polysilicon and multisilicon are often used as synonyms, multicrystalline usually refers to crystals larger than one millimetre. Multicrystalline solar cells are the most common type of solar cells in the fast-growing PV market and consume most of the worldwide produced polysilicon. About 5 tons of polysilicon is required to manufacture one 1 megawatt (MW) conventional solar modules.
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Polycrystalline silicon
Polycrystalline silicon, or multicrystalline silicon, also called polysilicon, poly-Si, or mc-Si, is a high purity, polycrystalline form of silicon, used as a raw material by the solar photovoltaic and electronics industry. Polysilicon is produced from metallurgical grade silicon by a chemical purification process, called the Siemens process. This process involves distillation of volatile silicon compounds, and their decomposition into silicon at high temperatures. An emerging, alternative process of refinement uses a fluidized bed reactor.
Amorphous silicon
Amorphous silicon (a-Si) is the non-crystalline form of silicon used for solar cells and thin-film transistors in LCDs. Used as semiconductor material for a-Si solar cells, or thin-film silicon solar cells, it is deposited in thin films onto a variety of flexible substrates, such as glass, metal and plastic. Amorphous silicon cells generally feature low efficiency.
Monocrystalline silicon
Monocrystalline silicon, more often called single-crystal silicon, in short mono c-Si or mono-Si, is the base material for silicon-based discrete components and integrated circuits used in virtually all modern electronic equipment. Mono-Si also serves as a photovoltaic, light-absorbing material in the manufacture of solar cells. It consists of silicon in which the crystal lattice of the entire solid is continuous, unbroken to its edges, and free of any grain boundaries (i.e. a single crystal).
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