3.1.1. Siemens Process

In the late 1950s, the Siemens reactor was developed and has been the dominant production route ever since. About 80% of total polysilicon man­ufactured worldwide was made with a Siemens-type process in 2009. The Siemens process involves deposition of silicon from a mixture of purified silane or trichlorosilane gas, with an excess of hydrogen onto high-purity polysilicon filaments. The silicon growth then occurs inside an insulated reaction chamber or “bell jar,” which contains the gases. The filaments are assembled as electric circuits in series and are heated to the vapour deposition temperature by an external direct current. The silicon filaments are heated to very high temperatures between 1,100-1,175 °C at which trichlorsilane, with the help of the hydrogen, decomposes to elemental silicon and deposits as a thin-layer film onto the filaments. Hydrogen Chloride (HCl) is formed as a by-product.

The most critical process parameter is temperature control. The temperature of the gas and filaments must be high enough for the silicon from the gas to deposit onto the solid surface of the filament, but well below the melting point of 1,414 °C, that the filaments do not start to melt. Second, the deposition rate must be well controlled and not too fast, because otherwise the silicon will not deposit in a uniform, polycrystalline manner, making the material unsuitable for semiconductor and solar applications.

Updated: August 22, 2015 — 7:00 pm