Published: 02nd March 2021
This SSN prof is bringing India into the solar energy game with #MadeInIndia silicon solar cells. Here's how
P Ramasamy, Dean of SSN College of Engineering, has indigenously-developed solar ingots that are more effective than imported ones
Did you know that crystalline silicon is one of the major components of a solar cell? This solar cell is then put into solar panels, which in turn produce solar energy and electricity. Over the years, as India has seen significant growth in this clean energy adoption, it must also be noted that most of the crystalline silicon was being imported. But for the first time, Indian researchers have developed Indian-made silicon that can be used to make solar cells. Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative, Dr P Ramasamy of the SSN College of Engineering has been instrumental in this Made in India silicon crystals.
With over 45 years of his life devoted to crystal growth, 78-year-old Ramasamy, who is the Dean at SSN Institutions, is truly a pioneer in this field. "In India, no one has been making the silicon ingots that are used to make the silicon cells. Usually, these cells are imported and then installed into solar panels," says Ramasamy. "Through this research, we have tried to show a process to make these silicon ingots in the country, which can then be turned into silicon wafers and finally, solar panels," he adds. The research has recently been sanctioned by the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
Dr P Ramasamy
Ramasamy and his team had already demonstrated that silicon crystals could be grown in India. "Through this approval, we can now begin work on 800 kilograms of silicon crystals," says Ramasamy. The crystal was made using an India-made DS Furnace. "In the conventional process, the silicon is put inside a crucible and melted completely. It then undergoes a controlled bottom-to-top freezing process, which leads to the formation of crystal pillars. It is from these crystals that the silicon ingots are made," says Ramasamy, narrating the process.
Earlier, Ramasamy and his team took up a five-crore-worth research project that showed the silicon cells made indigenously are more efficient than the ones purchased. "The present project that has been approved by the DST is based on the 20 kilograms we were able to produce during this first project, which was completed two years ago after a period of four years," says Ramasamy, who had been a faculty at Anna University till his retirement. It was only in 2003 that he joined SSN College of Engineering and has been working on crystal growth since.