Find out how you can grow "Silicon" crystals in order to make solar cells. This is a very useful knowledge for those who are interested to make their very own solar power systems from scratch.
You will need
Plastic coffee Jar (empty)
To make a photovoltaic cell we need silicon, this article is going to show you how solar cells are produced from crystalline silicon.The words "crystalline silicon" should indicate to you that this type of solar cell is made from crystals of silicon. We saw earlier how silicon aligns itself into a regular crystalline array, now we are going to look at growing this crystal.
In industry, silicon crystals are grown to form a uniform cylinder of silicon which is used as the base material for crystalline solar cells. There is plenty of silicon about on the earth, in fact, as mentioned previously, after oxygen it is the second most abundant element. When you think that sand and quartz all contain silicon and then imagine the amount of sand in the world, you begin to realize that we are not going to run out of silicon in a hurry!
The problem with sand is that it also contains oxygen in the form of silicon dioxide, which must be removed.
The industrial process used to produce silicon requires temperatures of around 3270oF (which is about 1800oC). Obviously we can't experiment with these3 sorts of temperatures at home - but we can recreate the process!
If you want to do it all yourself, the process is a relatively easy one. You are going to need a saturated sugar solution; this will sit in the lid of your coffee jar. Now, take a large crystal of sugar, often sold as "rock sugar" and "glue" it to the end of the skewer. Next, drill a hole the same diameter as the skewer, and poke the skewer through the bottom of the coffee jar. Stand it on a windowsill and lower the crystal into the saturated sugar solution. Over some time, crystals should start to grow - pull the skewer up slowly, bit by bit, so that the growing crystal is still in contact with the sugar solution. This is just like the way that silicon is grown. The silicon is drawn up slowly from a bath of molten hot silicon (which is analogous to our saturated sugar solution).
Once this large crystal of silicon has been manufactured, it must be cut into slices to manufacture the solar cells.