Hot Pressing and Characterization of Powder Based Silicon Substrates for Photovoltaic Applications.
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High purity silicon material in solar cell fabrication constitutes 40% of the total cost for conventional solar cell production. One approach to reduce costs would be to use less of this expensive silicon by making thin film solar cells and use a cheaper substrate as mechanical carrier.In this work the main objective has been to manufacture silicon substrates from powder by hot-pressing. The effect of the sintering parameters has been characterized. A secondary objective was to look at the possibility to achieve larger grains by recrystallization.Samples processed by hot-pressing silicon powder of metallurgical grade with varying temperatures (1200-1375 °C), pressures (30-50 MPa) and sintering time (30-60 min) has been carried out. Halogen lamps were used for heat treatment for specific samples after hot-pressing. Microstructure and porosity were characterized using optical and electronic microscopy. EBSD was used to determine the grain size and grain orientation. The density was determined by Archimedes method. Resistivity was measured by a conductive probe.Densities higher than 90 % were obtained at high temperatures and pressures. The time conducted at maximum temperature during hot-pressing was not of vital importance with respect to density.The mean particle size of the powder was determined to ~20 μm, while hot-pressed samples had an average grain size of ~30 μm. The samples showed low resistivity due to high impurities of the silicon powder. High surface porosity was found for the less dense samples. Recrystallization was successfully achieved for the sample hot-pressed at 1350 °C, 30 MPa and 30 min, resulting in elimination of pores and significant grain growth from 31,83 to 56,96 μm.Characterizations of the hot-pressed samples are limited to the methods and techniques described above.