8 March 2010


XsunX completes CIGS co-evaporation processing chamber design

After announcing in January that it had completed a fully functional CIGS (copper indium gallium diselenide) thin-film solar device, XsunX Inc of Aliso Viejo, CA, USA, which develops and commercializes thin-film photovoltaic (TFPV) solar cell technologies and manufacturing processes, says that it has reached a milestone in its development process: the completion of a co-evaporation processing chamber design that combines several thermal evaporation techniques in one unified process to produce the absorber layer of its CIGS solar cell.

“This development is crucial to both the equipment and process technology side of our efforts,” says CEO Tom Djokovich. “Completion of this chamber converges several operations that we have been developing separately, allowing all of the processes necessary to produce the CIGS layer for our cross-industry technology to work in unison,” he adds. “This development increases the rate with which we can develop this new technology towards our initial baseline commercialization goals... This is a fundamental next step in our plan to commercialize our hybrid CIGS manufacturing process, and deliver a potential replacement solution for the use of silicon.”

XsunX says that the hybrid cross-industry system it is developing is an integrated delivery method that uses proven material handling and automation technologies from the hard-disk equipment (HD) industry and adapts them to small-area thin-film photovoltaic (TFPV) co-evaporation processes to configure the absorber layer in order to produce low-cost solar cells. The chamber will process 125mm x 125mm production-sized substrates, and will be replicated as the key component of a full commercial production toolset (after additional testing of the chamber itself).

“This integration of numerous processing technologies into a single chamber design will allow us to begin testing the value of hard-disk material handling and systems management technologies,” says chief technical officer Robert Wendt. “From the start, we envisioned this chamber as the key to our ability to viably produce commercial quantities of CIGS solar cells using small-area processing techniques,” he adds. “A key component to our success lies in our use of the co-evaporation process on individual small-area substrates, or wafers similar in size to silicon wafers, to produce the solar absorbing portion of the solar cell.”

Co-evaporation has been at the forefront of technology development efforts at institutes such as the US National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) and other agencies including the Institute of Energy Conversion/University of Delaware and Stuttgart in Germany (each achieving what is claimed to be world-class conversion efficiency).

Chamber completion is the result of experimentation and design modifications to both equipment and process technology and, in addition to being the foundation on which XsunX will continue to build its technology, also serves as an advance in the firm’s intellectual capital portfolio. XsunX says that its systems are being developed to deliver low-cost and high-yield front-end CIGS solar cell manufacturing methods coupled with customized back-end solar module assembly & packaging systems. The CIGS production technology is being designed as a turn-key solution to either enable upgrades to existing infrastructure or to establish new large-scale solar manufacturing capacity for the production of CIGS solar cells. The firm plans to offer joint venture manufacturing opportunities for the technology to regional partners in a number of industry types and solar applications.

See related item:

XsunX completes fully functional hybrid CIGS thin-film PV device

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