Introducing a New Standard in Wafer Manufacturing
Since the 1970s, silicon wafers have been made using a casting and sawing method. Manufacturers must first cast the pure silicon into large blocks of crystalline silicon, called ingots. These ingots are cut into bricks, polished, and then sliced into wafers. It’s during this final step where nearly half of the raw material is wasted, ground into dust or “kerf” during the sawing process. This process imposes high operating and capital costs — the result of a multi-step, energy intensive process that takes up to a week — and yields wide product variability due to bulk quality defects that emerge in the wafer growth process. Our Direct Wafer® technology upends this complex and antiquated process and replaces it with one, elegant machine that makes high-performance, standard silicon wafers directly from molten silicon every 20 seconds.
How the Direct Wafer Process Works
“We are excited about the potential of 1366’s Direct Wafer® products with Hanwha’s cell and module technologies to deliver further cost reductions and LCOE competitiveness to standard multi-crystalline wafer-based modules. – Seong-woo Nam, CEO, Hanwha Q CELLS
A Better Class of Multicrystalline Wafers at Half the Cost
Silicon photovoltaics is the dominant solar technology but there are limited opportunities for cell and module manufacturers to realize significant cost reductions without making investments in new equipment and processes. Our wafers provide such an opportunity and break the historic efficiency and cost tradeoffs of photovoltaics.
“A prime example of innovative brilliance.”
– Former US Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu
Silicon is a non-toxic, safe, proven material that lasts. Silicon is the foundation of numerous commercial products and can also be found in consumables, such as toothpaste and ketchup.
Silicon is one of the most powerful semiconducting materials. Silicon cells have proven efficiencies above 23% in manufacturing, with theoretical potential of approximately 30%.
After oxygen, Silicon (Si) is the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, making up for 25.7% (257,000 ppm) by mass. Although there are some non-silicon solar cells available, they invariably make use of rare and heavy metals.