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23 January 2015

k-Space supplying thin-film metrology tools for solar panel production

k-Space Associates Inc of Dexter, MI, USA (which supplies instrumentation and software for surface science and thin-film technology applications) says that it is supplying thin-film metrology tools to the photovoltaic industry in an effort to improve the efficiency and reliability of solar panel technologies.

Building on its presence in the crystalline III-V multi-junction solar cell market, k-Space now has over 100 tools in operation in commercial in-line photovoltaics production facilities around the world. These in-line tools are monitoring both process and material quality parameters and providing real-time feedback for process control.

k-Space says its PV metrology tools are tailored to measure the unique material properties and production processes of thin film solar technologies, such as cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS). Absorption edge, film thickness, panel temperature, surface roughness, and absolute spectral reflectance during solar panel production are some of the parameters monitored.

“There is a need for improved in-line, real-time metrology during solar panel production,” says CEO Darryl Barlett. “Starting in 2011, we adapted our semiconductor wafer-based metrology tools to thin-film solar panel manufacturing, as semiconductor materials are used in both processes. By measuring and storing data for each panel during production, our customers are not only able to make real-time adjustments to their process, but they also have access to data that can enable further product and process development,” he adds.

Recognizing the need for metrology tools in photovoltaics production, k-Space has staff with extensive experience in photovoltaics research and manufacturing. “My experience in photovoltaic production over the past 20 years has shown that inserting in-line metrology and diagnostics tools has been the most effective means of improving efficiency and yield,” comments product development engineer Greg DeMaggio. “Optimization of processes requires fast, reliable feedback,” he concludes.

Tags: k-Space Associates

Visit: www.k-space.com

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