GCL-Poly has started research in direct wafers from molten silicon

Direct wafer process of 1366 Technologies
After U.S. start-up 1366 Technologies, wafer giant GCL-Poly is now researching the direct wafer process – Image: Johannes Bernreuter

It is just a short remark in GCL-Poly's 2017 results announcement: The world's largest maker of multicrystalline solar wafers has initiated research in direct wafer growth from molten silicon.

The news comes at a time when U.S.-based start-up 1366 Technologies is struggling with ramping up its direct wafer process.

1366 announced in February 2013 it would deliver a wafer cost of $0.10/W at a production capacity of 1 GW. At that time, GCL-Poly still reported wafer production costs of $0.25/W.

However, conventional wafer technology has developed fast and will likely undercut the cost goal of 1366 in 2019.

Will GCL do better with the direct wafer approach? Doubts remain whether scaling down the slow process of crystallization from large silicon blocks to thousands of small wafers can be more efficient.

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