Posted: February 25, 2009

LayTec Announces the Development of a New In-Line Monitoring System for Thin-Film PV Processes

(Nanowerk News) LayTec, a major provider of in-situ monitoring equipment to the compound semiconductor industry, is entering a new field of business.
With its brand new product-line SolR, LayTec will provide the first in-line monitoring systems commercially available for thin film photovoltaic (PV) applications. SolR is capable of monitoring the film thickness of all layers throughout the thin-film PV process: transparent conducting oxide (TCO), absorber and buffer layers.
SolR will be available in various editions for copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) as well as for CdTe based thin-film solar cell processes. According to LayTec’s chief developer in the PV project, the main challenge that had to be tackled was to obtain an accurate film thickness measurement despite the reduced reflectance due to intentionally rough absorber layers.
Absorber layers (e.g. CdTe or CIGS) are intentionally designed to be very rough in order to maximize internal reflections of the sun-light in the cells, thereby enhancing the efficiency of the solar cell. Reflectance measurements, however, usually work ideally for smooth layers. LayTec has found a very robust way to establish film-thickness measurements even under these challenging conditions.
Today, measurements in thin film PV processes are mainly performed off-line and not on each batch. “SolR will help thin-film PV producers to control their production on-line and thereby enhance their yield. Besides, it will accelerate development cycles and help to transfer established processes to new lines, an important feature in times when thin-film PV industry grows rapidly,” LayTec’s CEO Thomas Zettler said.
“We realized a strong demand from CIS and CdTe based solar cell producers in discussions with researchers of big thin-film PV players at several conferences. Now, after less than a year of tightly focused engineering and testing works at LayTec, we are proud to have signed the first order contracts and to ship the first SolR system to a confidential thin-film PV manufacturer in May. Numerous further systems are expected to follow: better control pays off quickly.”
SolR is designed to be compatible with typical state of the art in-line and roll-to-roll processes and to work on all different kinds of substrates and current PV cell designs.
For further information, meet us at Photovoltaic Technology Show in Munich: we will present the latest development results in the Exhibitor Presentation Area on March 4 at 1:40 p.m. and will be happy to welcome you at our booth throughout the conference on 4-6 March 2009: Hall C1, Booth i5.
Source: LayTec (press release)
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