RUSNANO to Invest in High Tensile Strength Sawing Wire for Solar Energy and Microelectronics

(Nanowerk News) RUSNANO and company Terwingo have signed an investment agreement for construction of Russia's first factory to manufacture a distinctive steel wire for cutting silicon and sapphire. The wire is a key consumable in the production of solar battery elements and microelectronic units.
Ultra tensile strength steel wire is used in the microelectronic industry to cut silicon and crystal into wafer substrates for semifinished photoelements in solar batteries, integrated circuits, and LED chips. Solar energy consumes up to 90% of the sawing wire produced worldwide. It is the quality of the surface of the wire that determines its strength and durability and, in the end, the cost of cutting. St. Petersburg-based Terwingo, project initiator, has developed a technology for plasma modification of the wire surface to replace the traditional technology of chemical etching. Plasma modified sawing wire is capable of cutting twice as thin, and it costs 20% less than the best global competitors.
"The solar energy market, the main consumer of sawing wire, has been growing at a rate of 40% per year for the last five years worldwide. Events in Japan and plans in some European Union countries to back away from nuclear energy suggest that we shall see even great growth in the future. The global market for sawing wire last year reached $700 million. We intend to take a substantial role in that market. Production capacity for solar energy projects already planned in Russia will consume tens of thousands of tons of sawing wire annually," said RUSNANO managing director Alexander Kondrashov.

The project will have investments of 5.2 billion rubles. Of that sum, RUSNANO will cofinance 2.6 billion rubles.

"By the time the company hits design capacity, worldwide annual sales will equal five billion rubles. At first most of our shipments will be going to foreign markets. Later we shall gradually reorient our goods to the domestic market. The production technology, I would like to stress, was developed in Russia, at our Petroplasma subsidiary," noted Terwingo CEO Mikhail Ushakov.

The unique technology for plasma modification enables formation of a 50-micron to 100-micron layer on the wire's surface with steel grains size of 50 nanometers to 100 nanometers. The microharness of that layer is five times greater than regular steel, which explains why its breakage rate (number of breaks per one million meters of wire) is 40% less than the best sawing wire otherwise available. The unique qualities of the wire impact the cutting regime and the amount of spoilage, which, in turn, affects the final cost of the silicon and sapphire wafers.

The new manufacturing facility will be built in Lipetsk Oblast. It will have design capacity of 10,000 tons of high tensile strength wire per year. Inquiries about the products have already been received from companies in the United States, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and China. As part of project implementation, a R&D center will be established in St. Petersburg to refine the technology for plasma surface modification.

RUSNANO was established in March 2011 as an open joint-stock company through reorganization of state corporation Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies. RUSNANO's mission is to develop the Russian nanotechnology industry through co-investment in nanotechnology projects with substantial economic potential or social benefit. The Government of the Russian Federation owns 100 percent of the shares in RUSNANO. Anatoly Chubais is CEO and chairman of the Executive Board of RUSNANO.
Work to establish nanotechnology infrastructure and training for nanotechnology specialists, formerly conducted by the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies, has been entrusted to the Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs, a non-commercial fund also established through reorganization of the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies.
Terwingo was founded in mid-2006 to develop innovative high technology projects in various economic sectors. Today Terwingo manages a number of subsidiaries with diverse specialities: wire production for suspension cutting of silicon and sapphire crystals (Advanced Wire Technologies); development of plasma-arc processing of metal surfaces (Petroplasma); shipment of equipment and consumables for technologies for nondestructive control (ASK-ROENTGEN); shipment of equipment for fragmenting, pulverizing, and classifying materials in the construction and mining industries (New Technologies); and others. For more information, please visit
Source: RUSNANO (press release)
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