BALZERS, LIECHTENSTEIN & THUN, SWITZERLAND: Oerlikon Systems and Meyer Burger signed a strategic distribution and cooperation agreement for the SOLARIS thin-film coating equipment.
As part of the agreement, Meyer Burger’s sales & service organization will represent the SOLARIS for crystalline Silicon PV application in most regions, such as China, Taiwan, Europe, Middle East, India and the Americas. The two companies will also work together to further develop anti-reflective coatings and other innovative process steps within the manufacturing process of crystalline solar cells.
“Meyer Burger’s focus, strength and experience in the crystalline silicon PV market will enable us to reach out to cell manufacturers faster & more efficiently. Furthermore, we see significant synergies by leveraging Meyer Burger’s capabilities in automation, wafer & cell measurement tools and – last but not least – with Meyer Burger’s expertise in wafer surface design.” says Andreas Dill, Head of Oerlikon Systems.
“We are very happy to have Oerlikon Systems – a true leader in thin film technology - as our partner. This agreement is in line with our growth strategy to expand our successful model of providing core technologies in photovoltaics – to the benefit of our customers by further reducing cost of ownership while increasing conversion efficiencies and plant output” adds Peter Pauli, CEO of Meyer Burger.
The SOLARIS system is a high speed single wafer sputter system, similar in design to other high performance manufacturing systems from Oerlikon for optical discs and semiconductors.
The system is very flexible in its possible configurations, such as for anti-reflective coatings and back-side passivation & metallization for crystalline solar cells. It excels in its productivity, process quality & stability, lowest energy consumption and space requirements. The recent live demo of the system at the EU PVSEC in Hamburg generated a lot of interest and excitement.
The SOLARIS system is based on advanced nanotechnology. In solar cell or photovoltaic production with SOLARIS, very thin layers of silicon nitride are applied on the front of the cells. However, the flexibility of SOLARIS also allows coating of the backside with various materials.
Each wafer is handled and coated separately. With six coating chambers, a special carrier transport mechanism and a wide range of potential layer material, SOLARIS is not only highly flexible but at the same time enjoys unmatched productivity. The machine is able to treat standard wafer formats from 125mm2 to 156mm2, with an average amounting up to 1,200 wafers per hour. Changing substrate formats, layer materials or processes requires minimum time. A new system at a customer site can be installed and ramped up in less than one week.
“With SOLARIS, we for the first time apply advanced nanotechnology in the production of crystalline solar cells”, explains Andreas Dill, Head of Oerlikon Systems – “with enormous advantages for solar cell manufacturing. Firstly, with a size of 2x3.3m, SOLARIS requires 80 percnt less floor space than competitive solutions. Secondly, the fully automated solution requires minimal maintenance. Thirdly, SOLARIS needs significantly less power (minus 50 percent). Last, but not least, lower maintenance requirements result in a significantly higher uptime.
“The benefits of SOLARIS are quite obvious. It’s a revolutionary concept for solar cell manufacturing – the first of many ‘clean technologies’ possible with this new system”, says Dill.
The Oerlikon development teams have further, specific applications in mind:
Touch panels: These devices are being integrated in a wide range of applications from smart phones to PCs and refrigerators. SOLARIS applies a key conductive layer and anti-reflective coatings on the touch screen panels.
Thermoelectrics: These “green energy” devices generate electricity when heated. The thin film layers applied by SOLARIS are efficient at conducting electricity, but not heat, which keeps the device running.
Energy storage: Actually a family of applications that includes highly efficient (smaller and lighter) thin film batteries and advanced super capacitors for energy storage; SOLARIS provides thin film processes for all of these.