SIMTEC is our new Silicon Material TEChnology research center at Fraunhofer ISE. It focuses on the front end processes of the solar value chain. Starting with various sources of silicon feedstock, it involves multicrystalline block crystallization, block shaping, wafering and – as a new technology in PV – silicon epitaxy for crystalline silicon thin-film wafer equivalents.
The need for cost reduction in silicon photovoltaics is also present at this early stage of the value chain. It has already brought new, varying qualities of silicon feedstock to the market, and it is calling for fast and inexpensive crystallization of high-quality crystals as well as lower cost, high-yield shaping and wafering processes. Supported by the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, we are setting up SIMTEC as a technology platform for research on all aspects of this part of the value chain. Additionally, the laboratory enables us to offer services related to existing technologies.