Silicon is the second most abundant element found on the Earth. Polysilicon is a pure, stable, and crystalline form of silicon. It also called polycrystalline silicone and poly-Si. It offers properties similar to semiconductors. Polysilicon is employed in solar photovoltaic cells (PV) and electronics industries. It differs from monocrystalline silicon and amorphous silicon in terms of silicon structure. Monocrystalline polysilicon is used in microelectronic devices and is more efficient than polysilicon. The cost of polysilicon is low compared to that of single crystal or monocrystalline silicon. Polysilicon consists of numerous small silicon crystals of larger than 1 mm size. Polysilicon is produced in ingot and wafer forms. More than 350,000 tons of polysilicon is manufactured across the globe every year.
The polysilicon market can be segmented in terms of manufacturing technology, structural form, physical properties, application, and region. Polysilicon is manufactured through different processes, namely Siemens process, fluidized bed reactor, and upgraded metallurgical grade (UMG). Siemens process produces the highest quality of polysilicon material by distillation at high temperature. It is employed in solar cells and electronics applications. The process accounts for almost 90% of the global polysilicon production. Polysilicon produced in fluidized bed reactors is utilized in solar photovoltaic applications. Upgraded metallurgical grade is employed in electronics materials. Polysilicon is manufactured in the form of chunks, chips, granules, and rods. The structure depends upon the end-use application. Generally, polysilicon rods are broken down to form chunks. Physical properties of polysilicon such as resistivity and mobility depend upon the grain size of crystals. This can vary with different manufacturing processes. As the grain size of polysilicon crystals increases, the efficiency of solar cells rises.
Polysilicon is employed in electronics and solar PV cells. The electronics industry can be further sub-divided into end-use application. Polysilicon is used in integrated circuits, electronics gates (MOSFETs and CMOS), resistors, and conductors and, as an ohmic contact for shallow junctions. Electronics industry needs pure forms of polysilicon compared to the solar cell industry. Up to 99.999% pure polysilicon is also used in the electronics industry. Solar photovoltaic cells are utilized in power grids, solar accent lighting and small scale applications such as pocket calculator. To produce 1 megawatt of solar modules, around 5 tons of polysilicon is required. Based on region, the polysilicon market can be divided into Latin America, North America, Middle East & Africa, Europe, and Asia Pacific.
Prices of polysilicon have declined significantly over the last few years. However, the polysilicon market is likely to expand due to the rise in demand for photovoltaic applications and growth in the electronics industry. Investments, expansions, and long term contracts of companies are driving the polysilicon market. Research and developmental activities are estimated to reduce the cost of polysilicon; but laboratory inventions in chemistry can compete the polysilicon market. Rising usage of renewable energy sources encourage solar photovoltaic cell production; but the production of polysilicon is not environment friendly. China accounts for major share of the market, led by the large manufacturing capacity in the country. It is followed by the U.S. The polysilicon market in South Korea, Japan, Germany, and Norway is expected to expand at a rapid pace in the near future. The polysilicon market is likely to expand in India due to ‘Make in India’ policy. Demand for polysilicon is estimated to rise in Asia Pacific and Europe during the forecast period.
Major players operating in the global polysilicon market include Wacker chemie AG, OCI Company Ltd., Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, SunEdison Inc. and Dago new energy corporation.