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1 April 2014

Midsummer launches versatile R&D platform for CIGS PV deposition

Midsummer AB of Järfälla, Sweden, a supplier of equipment for manufacturing flexible copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film solar cells, has launched the UNO, a low-cost versatile R&D thin-film deposition platform specifically developed for universities and research facilities.

The UNO derives from the CIGS solar cell production but, with its generic design and optional configurations, it is suitable for a range of thin-film research applications. The firm adds that it has a high throughput, flexibility, stability and ability to design complex test series.

“There has been a lot of interest from universities and institutes for a lower-cost version of our commercial DUO production tool for R&D,” says CEO Sven Lindström. “We hope that a research tool like this will contribute to accelerate the development of cost-effective and efficient thin-film CIGS and CZTS solar cells on a global scale.”

The UNO is a platform for CIGS (copper, indium, gallium, selenium) and CZTS (copper, zinc, tin and sulfide) solar cell research, although it can be used for applications where a sputtered material stack in an unbroken vacuum chain is required (thin-film batteries, fuel cells, small display screens etc.).

The UNO can have up to 13 sputtering cathodes and warm the substrate up to 750°C (1400°F). It can load up to 300 substrates and run automatic test series, where each substrate has different parameter settings. It can also be supplemented with co-evaporation, analytical tools, database and various options.

The UNO has many of the features and design of the DUO, including a small footprint. The biggest difference between the two is that the UNO has only one main vacuum chamber and that sputtering takes place in only one process station at a time (suiting R&D).

Another R&D feature is that the UNO can use both glass and stainless-steel substrates and can be equipped with more in-situ measurement stations. As a pure R&D tool and not a low-cost production tool, the price of the UNO starts at under $1m, but depends on configuration.

Midsummer’s commercial production line is the DUO, a unique and compact CIGS turn-key system with a 5MW annual production capacity. Midsummer’s CIGS cells are made on stainless-steel substrates, making them suitable not only for regular solar panels but also for flexible, lightweight panels that can be used on membrane roofs, landfills or other structures where traditional glass modules cannot be applied.

“Thin-film CIGS solar cells are the solar cells of the future,” believes Lindström. “They are increasingly efficient and have many advantages over traditional silicon-based solar cells. They are durable, can withstand vibrations, can be curved and bent, and can be manufactured cost-efficiently in small volumes.” Thin-film CIGS solar panels are hence thinner and lighter than traditional silicon solar cells made of glass. They are also non-toxic (cadmium-free) and can be made frameless, suiting buildings and moving vehicles in cities.

Tags: CIGS CZTS Thin-film PV

Visit: www.midsummer.se/uno.html

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