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Wafer innovation: Fraunhofer CSP develops pioneering module solution

We examine the latest developments from this ground-breaking scientific and research institution as it devlivers solutions for efficient, cost-effective and reliable solar modules.

‘Emerging from the crisis stronger’ is a phenomenon that should also apply to the solar industry. And under this premise, the Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaic CSP (CSP) in Halle is carrying out applied research throughout the entire process chain for the production of wafer-based silicon solar modules. CSP is taking part in the “Intersolar Europe” trade fair for the solar industry in Munich for the fourth time this year – and it has even been nominated for an Innovation Award.
“No, the diamond wire does not sparkle,” sais Stephan Schönfelder, holding it up to the light. The wire looks grey compared to the shiny reddish gold steel wire with brass coating. The diamond coating feels rough and produces a faster dissipation of silicon blocks in the coveted thin wafers. Time is money – with the production of these grey discs that are used as the base plate for solar cells too. Wafer-based silicon solar cells have an 80 percent share of the global production of solar cells and modules.

“Roughly a third of the costs for a silicon solar module is accrued before production of the wafer even starts,” says Stephan Schönfelder and he adds that the research is about reducing these costs, even more so due to the crisis on the photovoltaics market. Schönfelder coordinates the research project which the diamond wire saw is involved even in the name: “DiaCell – innovative wafering technologies from the substrate to the photovoltaics module”.

The mechanical engineer wrote his doctoral thesis at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Halle. Its theme is based in the field of the mechanics of thin silicon substrates. He is therefore an expert when it comes to the mechanical properties of thin silicon wafers and in producing them in high quality but as cheaply as possible.


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