Eco-Friendly Method to Convert Silicon Waste into Nanoparticles

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Most solar panels in increasing numbers are based on silicon. Solar panels with a life span of 25 to 30 years tend to degrade over time and generate less electricity, which makes the recycling of silicon waste a hot topic. If no measures are taken to recycle silicon waste, by 2050, the earth will dump 60 million tons of waste photovoltaic panels.
Led by Stanislav Evlashin, a senior research scientist at the Skoltech Center for Design, Manufacturing, and Materials (CDMM), a team of researchers demonstrated a simple, 100% effective technique that can convert silicon wafers into nanoparticles in aqueous solutions. This discovery may help create an environmentally friendly silicon recycling method without the use of toxic chemicals.
The new conversion process is controllable and can control the size of nanoparticles, which can then be reused in medicine, optics, photonics and other fields.
Use hydrothermal synthesis in an aqueous environment to convert used panels into nanoparticles. The advantage of this process is that the size of the nanoparticles can be controlled in the range of 8 to 50 nm without the use of a lot of equipment.
Nanoparticle tracking analysis for measuring the environmental impact of nanomaterial waste and pollutants

The team used three types of silicon wafers in the experiment: N-type (nitrogen-doped), P-type (phosphorus-doped), and HR (high resistivity). Their theoretical estimation is based on density functional theory and proved that Si-H bonds are formed on the surface of the HR plate, even if ammonia is not used as a catalyst.
In addition, the reaction can be accelerated with the help of additives such as boron and phosphorus dopants and molecular defects (in the case of solar panels).
The vast majority of methods used to synthesize silica nanoparticles are based on a bottom-up approach and therefore use alkoxides as precursors. In contrast, our approach is a top-down approach, using bulk silicon as the source, which creates a wealth of advantages such as simplicity, scalability, and controllable particle size distribution.
Bondareva added: “Temperature and hydrolysis time are the key parameters that affect the synthesis of particle size distribution. We noticed that the increase in pH has a great impact on the rate of particle formation. This is why we use ammonia, which makes the reaction speed is faster.”
We decided to figure out how nanoparticles are formed in this process, and so on. To this end, we used a heterogeneous nucleation model with a limited number of nucleation centers distributed on the surface of the silicon source.
About Silicon nanoparticles
Silicon nanoparticles (SiNP) are biocompatible metal-free quantum dots, including photoluminescence with customizable dimensions and surfaces. Silicon nanoparticles are composed of pure amorphous nano-silica. Less than 5 nanometers, a narrow particle size range. Nano-silicon powder is considered a new generation of optoelectronic semiconductor material having a wide bandgap semiconductor. Meanwhile, it is also a material having a high power light source.
As we all know, silicon nanoparticles are both absorptive and abrasive, and silicon nanoparticles are mesoporous, which have important applications in nanotechnology drug delivery and medicine. In the past few decades, silicon nanoparticles have attracted great attention due to their interesting physical properties, active surface state, unique photoluminescence and biocompatibility.
What are silicon nanoparticles used for?
1. The raw material of organic silicon polymer material that can react with organic matter.
2. The metal silicon is purified to produce polysilicon.
3. Metal surface treatment.
4. The alternative nano-carbon powder or graphite, as the negative electrode material of the lithium-ion battery, greatly increases the capacity of the lithium battery.
Physical and chemical properties of silicon nanoparticles
White emulsion, non-toxic, non-irritating, non-burning, PH value of 12, a density of 1.15 to 1.2. It is used for the base surface of brick, cement, gypsum, lime, paint, asbestos, perlite, insulation board, etc. with excellent waterproof and anti-seepage effect. It has the functions of preventing building weathering, freezing, cracking, exterior wall cleaning, anti-fouling, anti-mold, anti-growing, etc. ; reliable quality, good durability, acid and alkali resistance, excellent weather resistance, no corrosion to steel bars, safe use, and construction convenient. Mortar impermeability >=S14, the permeability of concrete >=S18.
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