KLA-Tencor has introduced FabVision Solar, a new integrated solution designed to help crystalline-silicon photovoltaic cell manufacturers improve production yield and profitability by enabling them to react more quickly to metrology and defectivity excursions. The software package pulls the company’s ICOS PVI-6 optical inspection system data through a wide range of analysis and monitoring features to provide better control and improve visibility into the manufacturing process.
Until now, PV manufacturers have had to rely on time-consuming, inconsistent manual defect analysis methods. FabVision provides a turnkey, integrated solution for PV cell production that complements users’ existing automated optical inspection strategies, according to KLA-Tencor. It helps manufacturers identify the root causes of defectivity issues by applying production-proven defectivity and metrology methodologies from the integrated circuit and especially the bare-wafer markets that are designed specifically for ICOS PVI-6 tools and optimized for the solar industry.
The FabVision Solar platform features several key enabling elements:
- Excursion/process monitoring (statistical process control) provides process control through in-line monitoring of all PVI-6 measurement parameters and alarms/email notifications on excursions.
- Automated report generation increases visibility into manufacturing process with time-based automated reporting analysis of optical inspection measurement results from multiple inspection modules across multiple fab manufacturing lines.
- Detection of repeating defects and warning capabilities enables quick reaction to excursions with configurable rules set by proximity, defect type, and frequency of occurrence, while real-time alarms offer email notification and on-tool warning.
- Defect signature identification using multiple wafer/cell stacking helps visualize defect signatures or frequently impacted wafer/cell locations for root-cause understanding and action in the production line.
- Problem identification through wafer/cell image review captures wafer/cell images and data from the PVI-6 and allows complete review of images complemented by eased navigation through data.
“Since testing FabVision Solar with the PVI-6 tool in recent months, the speed and accuracy of our defect analysis processes has significantly improved, contributing to overall increased yield,” said Wouter Verbist, process specialist at Photovoltech, one of several customer beta sites using the yield management software. “We believe this product is positioned to become a necessity for world-class solar cell manufacturers looking to increase efficiency and improve yield by quickly identifying and understanding defectivity root cause, enabling effective proactive decisions that impact bottom-line results.”
Jeff Donnelly, KLA-Tencor’s group VP of growth and emerging markets, believes that “the introduction of FabVision Solar fills a void in the PV cell manufacturing market for real-time predictive analysis. Implementing data collection, defectivity, and line-monitoring best practices enables our PVI-6 tool owners to take proactive measures throughout the manufacturing process. The ability to review in-line data at any point, not just for excursions, dramatically shifts our customers toward predictive action.”
Dave Kallus, senior director of KLA-Tencor’s process control information division, told PV-Tech that “we asked ourselves back during the market validation stage for FabVision Solar if the PV market was really ready for this type of product. I can tell you, having been through customer evaluations and beta sites, that the answer is an overwhelming yes.”
(KLA-Tencor will be demonstrating FabVision Solar at its Intersolar Europe booth, A5.337.)