Monocrystalline

Published: | Updated: January 6, 2021

Definition - What does Monocrystalline mean?

A monocrystalline or single crystal solid has a composition that is composed of a single crystal throughout and is made up of metal atoms or other materials that are arranged in such a way that the entire object is best described as a single grain or a continuous crystal. The arrangement of the atoms in a single crystalline material exhibits a strict order, resulting in an almost perfect structure. Single crystals exist in nature but are also artificially produced.

Because a monocrystalline solid is a material where the crystal lattice of the sample has no grain boundaries and is continuous (i.e., unbroken) up until reaching the very edge of the sample, it is completely uniform throughout the entire crystal, regardless of size.

It is for this reason that monocrystalline solids are used as semiconductor materials of the highest quality. Due to an absence of defects that usually accompany grain boundaries, monocrystals have unique mechanical and electrical properties. Therefore, they are widely used for technological applications like optics and electronics. These properties also make them precious in some gems.

Not surprisingly, the almost perfect crystalline structure yields the highest light-to-electricity silicon conversion efficiency in solar panels. The primary use for single crystal superalloys is to manufacture jet engine turbine blades.

Galvanic corrosion is induced by the porous silicon formation found in both monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon, and results in a thickly corroded surface layer.

Corrosionpedia explains Monocrystalline

The term single crystal or monocrystalline refers to any solid object that has an orderly three-dimensional arrangement of its atoms, molecules or ions and has this structure repeated throughout the entire volume of said material. Some minerals such as gemstones and quartz can often occur as single crystals.

Special techniques are employed to produce synthetic single crystals in order to control the deposition of material upon one nucleus, which usually is a small single crystal of a substance that may have been obtained from a previous preparation.

Silicon and gallium arsenide, which are single crystals, are used to manufacture integrated circuits and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for solid-state electronic devices.

While often imperfect, single crystals are often seen in nature and can potentially reach enormous sizes. The presence of imperfections in the microstructure of solids is favored by entropic effects such as inhomogeneous strain, impurities and crystallographic defects like dislocations. Perfect single crystals of meaningful size are rare in nature and difficult to produce in the laboratory, though they can be made under certain controlled conditions.

Monocrystalline solar panels (mono-SI) are a pure type of solar panel made from monocrystalline silicon. They have a uniform dark appearance with rounded edges that make them easily recognizable. The purity of the silicon enables high efficiency rates, some reaching above 20%. These panels tend to be less affected by high temperatures compared to polycrystalline panels. For these reasons they also tend to be the most expensive.

In contrast to monocrystalline structures, in an amorphous structure the atomic position is limited to a short range. Polycrystallines are made up of a number of smaller crystals that are known as crystallites and para-crystalline phases.


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