Solar Cell Manufacturing

Vacuum Measurement Instrumentation


The solar energy market promises to develop as a key technology driver in the field of renewable energy. Currently solar cell manufacturing uses many of the same technologies as the semiconductor and flat panel display market. Manufacturing both silicon and thin film solar cells requires thin film deposition under a vacuum. Film quality, process uniformity, productivity and yield are essential to solar cell production. Other energy markets require precise material delivery with excellent process control and analysis for high yield and productivity.

Some of the common vacuum flat panel processes include:

  • Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) – high temperature vacuum evaporation/condensation to put a vaporized form of the desired sputtering material onto the surface.
  • Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (PECVD) – deposits thin films from a vapor state using chemical reactions caused by the creation of a plasma between reacting gases. This allows for surface temperatures that are much lower than traditional CVD. Tight control of CVD processes is critical for high yields and lower costs.

New requirements that are unique for solar applications are emerging from applications that cover diverse areas such as photovoltaic solar cells and fuel cells, as well as traditional energy markets such as power plants, natural gas, petroleum and other established energy sources.