Full-scale production planned for epitaxially grown silicon wafers

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German chemical company Chemiepark Bitterfeld-Wolfen has invested in Fraunhofer ISE spin-off NexWafe, a start-up planning to establish the world’s first factory for the production of its epitaxially grown silicon wafers for use in photovoltaics. The facility will be based at Chemiepark Bitterfeld-Wolfen (CPG) and will be built in close collaboration with Silicon Products Bitterfeld (SPB), a manufacturer of silicon products based in the same chemical park.

Based in Freiburg, Germany, NexWafe provides manufacturers of solar cells with monocrystalline silicon wafers that are compatible with the standard procedures for the production of cells and modules. For the EpiWafer procedure, crystalline silicon layers are grown on a seed wafer and then removed without any kerf loss to form a self-supporting wafer of any desired size.

Dr Stefan Reber, CEO of NexWafe, said: 'Chemiepark Bitterfeld-Wolfen offers ideal conditions for building our first full scale production site. We are happy to have found in CPG and SPB two strong partners who share our vision and are able to give us comprehensive and dynamic support.'

Dr Friedrich Schaaff and Dr Hilmar Tiefel, managing directors and shareholders of Silicon Products Bitterfeld, added: 'Together with NexWafe, we are going to revolutionise wafer production. Our companies perfectly complement one another: While NexWafe has the know-how in the field of epitaxial wafer production, we bring in our experience in the operation of the necessary chemical production plant and in the solar industry.'

Explaining the unusual investment of a site operator in a start-up, Patrice Heine, managing directors of CPG, said: 'We constantly analyse our feedstock network and identify new companies with a good fit. Our investment underlines our ambition to be the number one production site in Europe for startups and SMEs in advanced materials and cleantech, such as battery materials or solar wafers in this particular case.'