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About the origin of low wafer performance and crystal defect generation on seed-cast growth of industrial mono-like silicon ingots



The era of the seed-cast grown monocrystalline-based silicon ingots is coming. Mono-like, pseudomono or quasimono wafers are product labels that can be nowadays found in the market, as a critical innovation for the photovoltaic industry. They integrate some of the most favorable features of the conventional silicon substrates for solar cells, so far, such as the high solar cell efficiency offered by the monocrystalline Czochralski-Si (Cz-Si) wafers and the lower cost, high productivity and full square-shape that characterize the well-known multicrystalline casting growth method. Nevertheless, this innovative crystal growth approach still faces a number of mass scale problems that need to be resolved, in order to gain a deep, 100% reliable and worldwide market: (i) extended defects formation during the growth process; (ii) optimization of the seed recycling; and (iii) parts of the ingots giving low solar cells performance, which directly affect the production costs and yield of this approach. Therefore, this paper presents a series of casting crystal growth experiments and characterization studies from ingots, wafers and cells manufactured in an industrial approach, showing the main sources of crystal defect formation, impurity enrichment and potential consequences at solar cell level. The previously mentioned technological drawbacks are directly addressed, proposing industrial actions to pave the way of this new wafer technology to high efficiency solar cells. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.