Eco-Friendly Method to Convert Silicon Waste into Nanoparticles


Aug 20, 2023

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Solar panels based on silica are becoming more common. Solar panels have a 25-30 year life expectancy and tend to degrade with time. They also generate less electricity.If we don’t recycle our silicon waste, there will be 60 million tons of photovoltaic panels on Earth by 2050.
Stanislav EVLASSIN, a senior scientist at Skoltech Center for Design, Manufacturing, and Materials, (CDMM), led a group of researchers to demonstrate an easy, 100% efficient technique for converting silicon wafers to nanoparticles using aqueous solution. This discovery may lead to a more environmentally friendly method of recycling silicon without toxic chemicals.
The new conversion method is controlled and can control the size and shape of nanoparticles. These can be used for medicine, optics or photonics.
You can convert old panels to nanoparticles by using hydrothermal reactions in an aqueous solution. This method has the benefit of being able to control the size of the particles in the range from 8 to 50nm without a large amount of equipment.
The environmental impact of nanomaterials and pollutants can be measured using the Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis

The team used silicon wafers of three types: N type (nitrogen-doped), phosphorus-doped, and HR (high resistance). Based on the density functional theory, their theoretical estimation proved that Si-H bond formation occurs on the surface HR plate even without ammonia as a catalyst.
The reaction can also be accelerated by adding additives like boron or phosphorus dopants, as well as molecular defects in solar panels.
Alkoxides are used as precursors in the vast majority of bottom-up methods to synthesize nanoparticles. Contrary to this, our top-down method uses bulk silicon as a source. This creates many advantages such as simplicity in the process, scalability and controllable size distribution.
Bondareva said: “Temperature is the most important parameter that influences particle size distribution. We observed that increasing pH has a large impact on the particle formation rate. “This is why we use the ammonia which speeds up the reaction.”
We then decided to investigate how nanoparticles form in this process. In order to achieve this, we used an heterogeneous-nucleation model that had a small number of nucleation center distributed on top of the silicon.
The chemistry of silicon nanoparticles
Silicon nanoparticles, also known as SiNP, are metal-free quantum particles with customizable surfaces and sizes. Silicon nanoparticles contain pure amorphous, nano-silica. The particle size range is less than 5 nm, which is a small particle. Nano-silicon Powder is considered to be a newer generation of optoelectronic semiconducting material, with a large bandgap. In addition, it’s a material with a powerful light source.
Silicon nanoparticles, as we know, are absorptive, abrasive. Furthermore, they are mesoporous. These properties have important applications for nanotechnology, drug delivery, and medicine. The unique photoluminescence of silicon nanoparticles and their physical properties have made them a popular choice for many applications in recent decades.
What uses are there for silicon nanoparticles
1. Raw material for organic silicon polymer materials that can react organically.
2. Polysilicon is made by purifying metal silicon.
3. Metal surface treatment.
4. The lithium-ion battery can be significantly increased in capacity by using nano-carbon or graphite as the negative electrode.
The chemical and physical properties of silicon nanoparticles
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