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Bringing Order to Amorphous Silicon

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Science  27 Feb 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5355, pp. 1300
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5355.1300a

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SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA-- Amorphous silicon can easily be laid down from a vapor over large areas to create large-area, low-cost electronics such as solar cells and the displays in laptop computers. But its disordered arrangement of atoms cuts into the performance of these devices, and the alternative, crystalline silicon (the material used for high-end computer chips), is prohibitively expensive to put down as a thin film over a large area. Now materials scientists at the Photonics West conference here last month have reported developing a laser technique that allows them to reliably and cheaply create patches of high-quality single-crystal silicon in a film of amorphous silicon.