January 5, 2005 – IIS Material, a startup spawned from research at the University of Tokyo, has developed a way to remove impurities from the silicon waste generated in the semiconductor manufacturing process so the silicon can be reused as a substrate for solar cells, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun.
The new recycling process makes use of the scrap silicon that remains after ingots have been sliced to make wafers as well as the silicon that has failed to pass the grade during inspection. The collected material is melted in an evacuated chamber using an electron beam to drive off impurities. The result is a silicon melt that is pure enough for use to make substrates for solar cells.
IIS Material has procured funds of 450 million yen from a group of seven venture capital firms including CSK Venture Capital Co. In addition to supporting continued research, the funds will also be used to establish a mass-production facility that will have the initial capacity to process 70 tons of waste silicon/year.
In fiscal 2006, the company plans to begin commercial operations that would recycle silicon waste for sale to makers of solar cells. It anticipates sales of 100 million yen the first year.