Fast pulling of silicon ribbons: Experimental and numerical proof-of-concepts

Abstract : Silicon ribbons produced by vertical growth from a melt are used as preferred substrate for solar panels. However, today's production speed is limited to a few millimetres per second to avoid breaking the liquid bridge between the melt and the ribbon. Nevertheless, soap films can be formed at much larger speeds due to interfacial stresses induced by the presence of surfactant concentration gradients at the free surfaces. Surfactant can obviously not be used to produce ribbon of pure silicon but interfacial thermocapillary stresses can be used instead by prescribing temperature gradients along the free surfaces. This new concept of stabilizing the formation of free liquid films by thermocapillary effects has recently been reported and patented by the promotor and US collaborators. However, no proof-of-concept has been achieved yet. The goal of this PhD project is thus to explore the feasibility of the concept of thermocapillary-assisted fast pulling silicon ribbon with the use of numerical and experimental approaches, and provide recommendations for on-site experimental tests. As a result, it is expected to speed up the production of ribbon silicon by factors of at least 10. This innovation in production method and production speed will lower the cost and increase the availability of ribbon silicon as a photovoltaic material and thus significantly contribute to the world energy sustainability.
Promoteur/Supervisor : Prof. Scheid Benoit
Email :
Site Web/Web site :
Centre de recherche/Research center : TIPs
Faculté/Faculty : Faculté des Sciences appliquées - école polytechnique/Brussels School of Engineering (Faculty of Applied Sciences)
Ecole doctorale/Graduate Colleges : Sciences de l'ingénieur/Engineering
Ecole doctorale thématique/Graduate School (French Only): Phénomènes non-linéaires, systèmes complexes et mécanique statistique

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